Augustana College’s John Deere Planetarium will be open to the public on Saturday, April 29, for the annual spring open house, according to a news release.

The planetarium, at 820 38th St., will be open from 8:30 p.m. until 10 p.m., with indoor and outdoor programs led by planetarium director Dr. Lee Carkner.  Admission is free.

(Augustana College)

The evening’s events will feature the planets Venus and Mars, as well as views of the mountains and craters of the Earth’s moon. The event will also include a planetarium show and an opportunity to visit the Carl Gamble Observatory. The Getz-Rogers Gallery, where images of celestial objects and a quarter-ton piece of the Canyon Diablo meteor are on display, will also be open to the public. 

(Augustana College)

The public may also visit the Fryxell Geology Museum, which features one of the best collections of minerals and fossils in the Midwest.

The observing areas are unheated so attendees are encouraged to dress accordingly. In the event of cloudy sky conditions, telescope views may not be possible but the indoor programs will still be offered.

(Augustana College)

A makeover of the Getz-Rogers Gallery in Augustana’s John Deere Planetarium took off after a gift from the estate of the first director of the facility. The gift came from the estate of Dr. Harry and Lillian Nelson. Dr. Nelson, a 1935 Augustana graduate and longtime mathematics professor, was the planetarium’s first director.

In recognition of the gift, the college has named the dome seating area the Dr. Harry E. Nelson Theater.

When 1965 graduates John and Chris Anderson Adolphi learned of the planetarium’s gallery improvement project, they contributed funds and John Adolphi recreated the portrait he took of astronaut Neil Armstrong when he visited campus in 1972. A gift from the Adolphis, the portrait now hangs in the Getz-Rogers Gallery.