Minnesota Planetarium Society's ExploraDome opens today

It's a damn shame that Minnesota has been without a public planetarium ever since 2002, when it was torn down along with the public library. Despite there being so many astronomy iPod apps out there, sometimes it still takes a pro to help explain, in person, what's going on in the universe and where to look for it.

There has recently been an exciting innovation to help alleviate this problem of not having a planetarium, however, and it's an honest-to-goodness world's first.

The Minnesota Planetarium's ExploraDome is a 14-foot tall, 25-diameter portable planetarium featuring Uniview, which is a state-of-the-art interactive visualization technology. It got its start 10 years ago at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City's American Museum of Natural History and the software has been growing more complex ever since.

ExploraDome is mostly aimed at bringing space to school kids across the state of Minnesota, but on select days through August, this planetarium will be set up at the Bell Museum and open to all. It may be the best opportunity for adults to get a glimpse of the dome all year before the kids hog it all for themselves.

ExploraDome will be at the Bell Museum beginning today, June 28, plus July 12, 19, 26; and August 2, 10, 17, 23 at 1, 2, or 3 p.m. It is free with museum admission and no reservations are required.