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Photo of the planetarium


The Southwest Minnesota State University Planetarium is a theater of the universe. It can surround you with an accurate image of the sparkling night sky as well as display the complex motions and cycles that take place around us. State-of-the-art technologies create a fully immersive multi-media experience.

The three primary projection systems include a laser phosphor digital fulldome system, an LED driven optical-mechanical star projector offering the most pristine look at the night sky, as well as a full-color laser light show system that can fill the entire dome with mesmerizing laser light. To augment this experience a powerful audio system enhances the impact of the experience as you take in the wonders of the cosmos. This unique experience will interpret the universe in a way that appeals to both the mind and eye. The Planetarium will introduce you to a life-long acquaintance with the sky and the dynamic universe we are a part of.

To book a group planetarium star show and/or laser light show by contacting the planetarium director:

Ken Murphy

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Sun and Sky Chart

The biggest sky-event for 2023 will be an annular solar eclipse across southwest America. In Marshall, only 41% of the sun will be eclipsed by the moon. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon is too small to block the sun completely and leaves the sun looking like a ring of fire. Ring is another word for the Latin word annulus.

  • Mercury makes its best evening appearance in mid to late April. For morning watchers, the best time to catch the smallest planet is mid to late January.
  • Venus can be seen in the evening sky from the year’s start to late July. After that, catch the brightest planet in the morning sky from late August until the rest of the year.
  • Mars is easy and bright to start the year in the evening sky. It fades slowly—probably gone to the naked eye by early September. The red planet will not reappear in the morning sky until early 2024.
  • Jupiter starts 2023 in the evening sky, but only until late March. By late May, the king planet will be high enough to observe in the morning sky. Jupiter shines in the evening sky again by August.
  • Saturn also starts 2023 in the evening sky, but only through the end of January. Catch the ring jewel in the morning sky in late March. From July until year’s end, Saturn can be seen in the evening sky.
2023 Sky and Space Calendar Preview
Date Event
January 4 Earth at perihelion, closest point to the sun, 91.4 million miles
January 8 Latest Sunrise
January 12 Mars ends retrograde motion
January 16 Pluto at solar conjunction, behind sun
January 22 Venus and Saturn close in evening sky—0.4° degrees apart
January 22 Chinese New Year—Year of the Rabbit—Second New Moon after Winter Solstice
February Launch of NASA’s Peregrine 1 lunar lander
February 1 20th anniversary of space shuttle Columbia disaster
February 16 Saturn at solar conjunction—behind Sun—moving to morning sky
February 22 The top three—Moon, Venus, and Jupiter—are very close
March 1 Venus and Jupiter close in evening sky—0.5° degrees (width of full moon) apart
March 12 Spring ahead! Daylight Saving Time begins
March 14 Pi Day and Einstein’s birthday
March 20 Spring begins at 4:24 p.m. CDT
March 28-29 Mercury and Jupiter close in evening sky
April Launch of ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE), arrives 2031
April Launch of Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) – JAXA (Japan)
April 11 Venus and Pleiades star cluster
April 11 Jupiter at solar conjunction—behind sun—moving to morning sky
April 20 Annular/Total Solar Eclipse—Western Australia and New Guinea
May 14 50th Anniversary of first Skylab—America’s first space station
May 17 Waning crescent moon and Jupiter very close in morning sky
May 22 Moon, Venus, and Mars for lovely trio in Gemini
May 26 Venus and Moon very close in morning sky
May 28-29 Mars and Jupiter close in morning sky
June 14 Earliest sunrise
June 18 40th Anniversary of first American woman to fly in space
June 21 Summer Solstice starts at 9:58 a.m. CDT
June 27 Latest sunset
July  Launch of Russian Luna 25—a lunar lander
July 4 Earth at aphelion, the farthest point from the sun
August Launch of Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO)
August 1 Biggest full moon of 2022 (also called Supermoon)
August 11-13 Perseids meteor shower peaks
August 13 Venus at inferior conjunction-between sun and Earth, moving to morning sky
August 21 NASA’s Parker Solar Probe makes sixth Venus flyby
August 26 Saturn at opposition, opposite the sun, up all night
August 31 Blue Moon (also called Supermoon)
September 19 Neptune at opposition 
September 23 Fall arrives with the autumnal equinox at 1:50 a.m. CDT
September 24 OSIRIS-Rex returns to Earth with sample of asteroid Bennu
October Launch of NASA’s Psyche mission to metal asteroid Psyche, arrives 2026
October 14 Partial solar eclipse (Marshall: starts 10:38 a.m., Max [41% sun eclipsed] 11:57 a.m., ends 1:27 p.m.)
November 2 Jupiter at opposition, opposite the sun, up all night
November 5 Fall back! Daylight Saving Time ends
November 13 Uranus at opposition
December 7 Earliest sunset
December 8 30th Anniversary of NASA astronauts repairing the Hubble space telescope
December 12-14 Geminid meteor shower peaks
December 21 Winter Solstice starts at 9:27 p.m. CST