Before the Clark Planetarium was established here, there was the Hansen Planetarium which was the go-to museum for all things space and planets in Salt Lake City. But due to a grant by the Clark Foundation, a new and better planetarium opened up and now the people of Salt Lake City have the Clark Planetarium. Opening in 2003 the Clark Planetarium plays host to some pretty awesome shows and exhibitions not all of which are related to space. The massive dome theater here is the perfect place to catch a show and their production teams carry on the 37-year traditions started by the Hansen Planetarium earlier. Spend a day here and lose yourself in the wonders of science and space, but before you do, check out this guide to Clark Planetarium, Salt Lake City.
Things to do
View the exhibits
The Clark Planetarium features three main floors of exhibits and attractions, each focusing on different themes and areas of space and science. Go hands-on with the models and displays and check out the solar system and beyond. The “Earth” exhibit focuses on the natural phenomenon on the planet earth. Step inside a volcano or marvel at their massive meteorite display. The “Near Earth” attraction focuses on things like space weather and solar flares. Learn about how the earth’s magnetic sphere plays a role in space and how the beautiful aurora borealis happens. Finally, the “Beyond” exhibit teaches you everything about space and the universe beyond our world. Learn about the stars and solar system and check out the Gravity Floor interactive exhibit. The IO attraction is one of Clark Planetarium’s most immersive as you can see what it feels like to step on Jupiter’s largest moon.
Catch a show
Clark Planetarium has a variety of shows on offer, ranging from nature and space documentaries to light shows and music. The Orbital ATK IMAX Theater on-site shows nature and science documentaries in both 2D and 3D while the Hansen Dome Theater shows a variety of cosmic light shows. Check out some shows, like Night Vision, that cover astronomy and space or Attack of the Space Pirates, a fully animated science-fiction adventure about aliens. For music lovers, there are shows set to 70s Prog-Rock, Lez Zeppelin and Techno.
Things to buy
The Clark Planetarium has a large gift and souvenir shop on-site, known as the Planet Fun store. If you’re not sure what to get while you’re here, or you want to buy something for someone, try getting a gift card that’s purchasable online or in-store.
The Planet Fun store is your one-stop-shop for everything fun and cool at Clark Planetarium. The souvenirs here range from T-shirts featuring planets and funny slogans to official NASA merchandise. Buy a model display of the solar system or perhaps some souvenir memorabilia glassware of our solar system. They got some pretty cool toys for kids and adults so there are options for the whole family to enjoy.
Although admittedly on the more expensive side of things, Clark Planetarium sells a wide variety of telescopes. They even have an expert on-site to help you select the right one for you if you choose to buy one. The telescopes here are top of the line and with computerized guidance systems and location coordination. They are small and compact as well and can easily fit inside a car for lightweight transport.
If you plan on taking in everything there is here at the Clark Planetarium, then you might want to dress comfortably. This is a very big museum with a lot of walking to be done if you’re going to check out all the exhibits. Bring some comfy walking shoes.
Know when to visit
While access to the exhibits is free for the public, the area is a pretty popular one with a lot of people going daily, including groups of kids on field trips. If you plan on going when it isn’t too crowded, check their times and head over during their off-peak hours. Mornings, between 9 am to 1 pm, are the quietest.
How to get there
Parking is available at the Clark Planetarium at The Gateway. The parking structure is underground and has two direct entrances to the planetarium. Prices start at 1 USD after the first hour but if you wish to park for free, there is also parking outside although spaces are not guaranteed.
Access to the Clark Planetarium is easily doable through Salt Lake City’s public transit system. The UTA TRAX service stops right in front of the Clark Planetarium and there are several bus stops within walking distance as well.
How to book tickets
Admission to the exhibits and store are free to the public but shows at the IMAX and Dome Theater will require a paid admission ticket. Tickets can be bought in person or through their website ahead of time here.
Clark Planetarium information
Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 10:30am - 7pm; Thurs: 10:30am - 10pm; Fri - Sat: 10:30 - 11pm
Address: 110 400 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, United States
Official website: Clark Planetarium
Department of Tourism: Visit Salt Lake City
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