Explore the night sky and learn about the constellations and planets and how to find them.

The Heitkamp Planetarium is a viable resource for students and is the only functioning planetarium within a 100-mile radius of Dubuque. Originally conceived in 1962 as part of an effort to mark the 125th anniversary of Loras College, the project took on special significance in 1964 as it was named in honor of Professor George Heitkamp after he passed away celebrating his 50th year serving as a Loras science professor.

Loras offers our local and surrounding communities opportunities to observe the night sky in great detail. Live narrated shows of the night’s sky are accompanied by legendary interpretations and known facts. Shows are updated seasonally and most are is intended for all ages.

Upcoming Events

“The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall”
A look into the visual effects of a star’s final days, using examples from various stars across our universe, including our own sun.

Friday, April 29, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.
Presented by Megan Himm (’24).
Registration is required and seating is limited.

Special Student Events

We are pleased to host age-appropriate shows for school groups, scouting organizations, and youth groups. Please contact Ms. Kris Dolan at kristen.dolan@loras.edu or 563.588.7145 (or 588.7182) for information and scheduling.

Past Events

“The Rise and Demise of Earth”
Earth. How was it formed? How will it die? Answer these questions and more with us at The Rise and Demise of Earth planetarium show!

“A Star is Born”
There is much more to the lives of stars than just those dots of light we see in the night sky.  Those tiny dots are actually giant condensed balls of gas, but how did they get started? Join us as we learn about the birth of a star and its effects on their surroundings.

“Journey to Space”
With just over 50 years since the first human venture into space, we take a look back at past journeys into space and future space-travel.  Loras College alum Jeff Heitzman (Systems Engineer for Commercial Human Spaceflight) returns to campus to lead us through this fascinating journey.

“Intergalactic Measuring Stick”
As we look into the night sky we see a collection of dots that we know are actually giant balls of flaming gas called stars. But just how “Giant” are they. Join us as we replicate an experiment and discover how far away and big our sun really is.

“Diversity in the Sky”
Throughout history, various cultures have envisioned importance to the stars and constellations.  Mythological stories tell us much about ancient cultures as well as the early beliefs about the structure of the cosmos.  This show will connect the different constellations in our night sky with the cultures whose mythologies have been passed down for thousands of years.

View more

“The Christmas Star”
The Heitkamp Planetarium will look back in the astronomical record to examine possible celestial events that could have produced an object in the sky that might have signified ‘The Star of Bethlehem’. Please note: Masks and Registration are required.

“The Dancing Lights”
The Northern Lights are technically known as the Aurora Borealis, named by Galileo for the Greek goddess of northern wind and the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora.  This magnificent phenomenon can be observed in the night sky by people in the northern latitude regions, where the light appears to dance melodiously in the sky.  This program will explore the causes and effects of the beautiful lights and their significance to various cultures thought out history

“Making Waves in the Universe”
Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time that result from powerful events in the universe. Einstein predicted their existence in 1916, and astronomers began the search for evidence – finally detecting waves in 2015. Join us as we learn about how gravitational waves were discovered, the events that cause them, and what they can tell us about the universe.

“UFO – no longer unidentified”
Since the early 19th century, sightings of strange objects have been reported by people around the world.  Are there extra-terrestrial beings visiting us or is it just a paranormal belief that people like to pursue?  If beings have visited Earth, then the incredible distances traversed would imply incredible speeds.  The Heitkamp Planetarium will address the multitude of issues surrounding UFOs.

“The Ozone Layer is Back”
Everyone has heard about the holes in the ozone layer, but what exactly is this ozone layer and why does it have such a big impact on our planet. This show will be taking a closer look into what exactly is the ozone layer and how it protects the earth. The show will also be looking at what is weakening the ozone layer and the impacts that go along with the decrease in the ozone layer effectiveness.


Questions? Let’s get in touch.

Feel free to contact us for more information or to schedule an event.

Kristen Dolan

HeitKamp PlanetariumFollow us