Seminar Archive

Planetarians' Zoom Seminars are usually on the last Friday of the month. All recordings of the seminars are uploaded to the PPA Youtube channel.

For upcoming zoom seminars, please see the Seminar Schedule page.

For instructions on how to join in a seminar, see the Online Seminar page.

Planetarium Zoom Seminars — YouTube playlist:

Seminar Recordings:


  • 2023 Jan 27. NASA Artemis Mission in Planetarium Programs. NASA plans to land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon with NASA's Artemis missions. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap - sending astronauts to Mars. Presenter: Patricia Moore, NASA's Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate's Outreach Strategist. Watch the video; read the chat.


  • 2022 Nov 18. The Astronomy of the Northern Dene (Athabascans), Chris Cannon, Assistant Professor with the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. At the center of these knowledge systems is a principal constellation identified as the incarnated spirit of a Traveler-Transformer figure who journeyed around the world in ancient time. Although this Traveler is widely known in Dene stories as the one who instilled balance and order in the world, his enigmatic transformation to the sky is known by few remaining Elders and tradition bearers. The Traveler constellation is not only a world custodian but also a teacher, ally, gamekeeper, and the embodiment of the world. These large constellations (sometimes covering the entire sky) composed of numerous smaller groups of stars named after body parts have deep antiquity in the Dene family. Chris Cannon has been involved with language and cultural documentation projects with Northern Dene Elders, speakers, and community members since 2008. Watch the Video. Read the chat.

  • 2022 Oct 28 - Blending Videos: Video Editing Workshop for Domes and Informal Educators - In the current age of the attention economy and the pandemic era, video content is a practical necessity for any organization looking to make an impact. Here is a beginner-to-intermediate workshop for any educator looking to create video content for your own use, e.g. on social media, on your websites, as exhibit content, digital signage, fulldome shows, or other programming. Presentation Slides as well as sample working files are here, so non-beginners can gauge their interest in attending. You will also be able to take the content to create your own hands-on, video editing workshop/afterschool/camp for students and other audiences as a way to build skills and inspire the next generation of content creators in your community. We will be using the free, open source program Blender, as a continuation of the PPA's Blender workshop series. There are no prerequisites for attending this workshop; we will start at the beginning since we've only touched on video editing previously. We will expect you to have installed the latest version of Blender ahead of time, and you may have the best experience if you have multiple monitors/devices, e.g. one screen to actively work in Blender, one screen for looking at the provided slides, and perhaps a separate phone to simply hear the conversations and voice your own questions. A proper mouse with a scroll wheel and a middle click will also help. There exists countless online tutorials to learn on one's own, so this workshop will focus on simply providing a dedicated time to work interactively with your peers, ask/answer questions, and generally foster the PPA/dome community. Any questions/requests/suggestions can go to If your organization would like a special talk from NASA's Museum & Informal Education Alliance, simply let us know! Watch the Video. Chat.

  • 2022 July 29. "The Art of Mars - Activities for Planetariums and others" - We are embarking into a whole new universe of art-in-the-universe from Webb Space Telescope images. How can we best involve people in art-science connections? The traditional classroom often distinguishes between the subjects of Arts and Sciences, and there’s a pervasive myth about creativity being at odds with logical science. However, Art can enhance and communicate Science, just as Science can augment and inspire Art. In these hands on activities, great for both inside and outside the dome, audiences take the case study of the Red Planet, Mars, to illustrate how the creative arts and scientific exploration have always been intertwined in the human experience. Inspired by the Planetarium Activities for Student Success from the Lawrence Hall of Science, and the Art and the Cosmic Connection lesson plans from JPL, audiences explore history of Mars exploration, elements of Art, astrobiology, and more. The activity/show materials are published on the MIE Alliance site (apply for an account here). The show preview (700 MB) is here. Questions/feedback are always welcome to the coordinator, Jeff Nee. Watch the Video. Chat.

  • 2022 June 24. We had a get together to recall the early days of the PPA with PPA old-timers especially invited to reminisce and tell stories. We had one of these last June and two to the old-timers who attended passed away in the fall, Mike Bennett and Steve Craig. Mike has left us some of the early newsletters, the Pointer, that we are digitizing and putting on the PPA website, so we had a look at those as part of this get together. Watch the Video.

  • 2022 May 27. NASA Resources for Planetariums, a panel-symposium to explore and discuss various ways that NASA currently supports planetariums and what the future could hold. Panelists included Mark Subbarao (NASA Scientific Visualization Studio; SVS), Jeff Nee (Museum & Informal Education Alliance, JPL), Doug Duncan and John Keller (University of Colorado Fiske Planetarium), Frank Summers (Space Telescope Science Institute), and possibly others. Participants saw what's available and shared ideas about how NASA could enhance its support for the planetariums of the world, and their planetariums in particular. Watch the Video. Chat.

  • 2022 Apr 29,. JavaScript Primer workshop for Planetarians. Whether you have a dome system that can run JavaScript (e.g. Digistar or Dark Matter), you’re interested in developing your planetarium’s webpage, or you’ve always wanted to offer a simple, accessible, computer science workshop to your own audiences, watch this hands-on, beginner’s workshop and start your JavaScript journey with your peers. No computer programming experience is required. Take advantage of JavaScript to customize your dome experience, to make your websites more interactive, and to offer more STEM content to your audiences. We gathered examples of useful JavaScript code from planetariums to share with beginners. There are lesson plans and materials to help you whether or not you attended the original workshop. To contact the workshop leader, email Jeff Nee <>. Watch the Video. Chat.

  • 2022 Mar 25. Edu Myths. Dr. Jenny Shipway. Planetarians spend a lot of time addressing astronomy misconceptions, but we should also be on guard for popular education misconceptions. This talk looks at some of the most sticky and prevalent edu myths, why they are so difficult to dispel, and how their allure can offer a useful window into the mind of our audiences. Dr. Shipway has been working in and with planetaria for nearly twenty years, including ten years leading the 17m digital dome at Winchester Science Centre, UK. She has sung songs with toddlers, taught astronomy to school children, and moved corporate customers to tears (in a good way!). She is now an independent contractor, working on a variety of projects including education research training and scriptwriting/consultancy for fulldome films. She sits on the IPS Education Committee (Education Research sub-committee) and is a past president of the British Association of Planetaria. She is based in Winchester, UK. Watch the Video. Chat. References.

  • 2022 Feb 25. Blender Help Desk: After the primer workshop and the intermediate workshop, it's time to create something you can use in your dome. This session will be a freeform Q&A/feedback/working session to help you actually complete a Blender creation you can use right away. Remember that online video tutorials abound for most tasks in Blender, so search for "Blender how to..." just to get started, then bring it to share with the group, and/or get help, feedback, tips, best practices, and more. Relevant links are in the video description. Email with questions/suggestions. Watch the Video

  • 2022 Jan 28. Navigating by the Stars. Tony Smith, J. Watumull Planetarium at Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii. The art and science of non-instrument navigation was nearly lost in Hawai'i when permanent settlement was established around 600 years ago. In the 1970s the Polynesian Voyaging Society was established to prove that it was possible to navigate the open ocean without the aid of modern instruments. In this talk Tony Smith demonstrated some of the methods used by modern navigators to sail thousands of miles and pull islands out of the ocean, and how we share this knowledge with audiences in our planetarium. Watch the Video. Chat.


  • 2021 December 17. An informal gathering of PPA members past, present, and future, to reminisce and share stories. Video: See also, Norman Sperling's Astronomical Road Trips that he showed during this meeting.

  • 2021 Nov 19. Blending Reality: a 3D modeling Intermediate Workshop - A continuation from the Blender Primer Workshop, this was geared towards those who have at least played with Blender, 3D modeling, and more. This guided, hands-on workshop focussed on project-based learning, and was open to participant questions and requests. Projects covered in this session included converting to/from 360/fulldome media, customizing 3D NASA models for your dome, and intermediate video and rendering settings. Coordinator Jeff Nee, NASA Museum & Informal Education Alliance (formerly of the Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley) has used Blender since 2016. The presentation slides are here (with presenter notes & links to Blender files used). Video. Chat.

  • 2021 October Session was Postponed.

  • 2021 Sep 24. The Interactive Show "Mission: Mars" - Mars Exploration will certainly be in the headlines for the next years. Thinking on that and inspired by the Education Modules From Dream to Discovery, we designed the show Mission: Mars. The show is a sequence of short films with different possible paths to follow. The end of the show is up to you to decide. Presenter: Guilherme Frederico Marranghello. Guilherme graduated in physics and PhD in Theoretical Physics. He is the director of Planetário da Unipampa, in the south of Brazil. Video. Chat.

  • 2021 Aug 27. Blending Creativity: a 3D modeling Primer Workshop. For those who have never used, or are just starting to use, the free, 3D modeling software Blender, this guided, hands-on workshop covers the basics on how to use Blender for content creation. Share your creativity with the world! Here are links to detailed, downloadable Slides and Setup suggestions. Coordinator Jeff Nee of the NASA Museum & Informal Education Alliance (formerly of the Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, CA) has been using Blender for his dome since 2016. Video. Chat.

  • 2021 Jul 30. Tips for making videos for virtual planetarium experiences. John Erickson (The Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, CA) is one of many who have produced and recorded videos while away from the Planetarium. Working at home, with few resources, he has managed some satisfying results using the simplest of tools (zoom recording). He shares his procedure for recording videos, the choices he has made for style and content, what is working well, and what has not worked so well. Video. Chat.

  • 2021 June 25. PPA Old-timers get-together. Present: Steve Craig, Alan Gould, Michael Bennett, Keith Johnson, Tom McDonough, Jon Elvert, Robert Pippin, David Seidel, Edna DeVore, Darryl Sanford, Bing Quock, Gail Chaid, Jim Manning, Norman Sperling, Jack Dunn, Jeff Adkins, Ken Miller, Karl Von Ahnen. Photo (legend). Video.

  • 2021 May 28. Virtual Field Trips in Real Life. Toshi Komatsu, Director of the De Anza College Planetarium, and Mike Askins, part-time presenter at the De Anza College Planetarium. Over the summer of 2020, the De Anza College Planetarium made plans for virtual planetarium field trips: six brand-new programs, using the Next Generation Science Standards as a framework to guide content development, with emphasis on interactivity and engagement. Plans were presented at the WAC e-conference last summer. However, the best laid plans of planetarians often go awry. Toshi and Mike give a sample virtual planetarium field trip, and discuss lessons learned from what was planned, and what is actually done. Video on Youtube. Attendees & Chat.

  • 2021 Apr 30. News from Two PPA Mini Grant Awardees. Alice Few from Pierce College, Lakewood, Washington speaks on using videos and live-stream interaction with Pierce College planetarium staff in a new program where middle school students learn about astronomy, exploration of the Moon or Mars, and an introduction into coding that will allow them to create a sustainable 3D habitat on the Moon or Mars. Nico Van der Merwe from Sutherland Planetarium (South Africa) talks about his fisheye lens astrophotography project to make time-lapse photos of the southern skies and make available freely for anyone to download and use (from the Sutherland Planetarium YouTube channel), as well as a bonus project developing an affordable fisheye projector mobile planetarium for the African continent. Video onYoutube. Attendees (chat)

  • 2021 Apr 22. OBS Intermediate Workshop was led by Mark Percy (Williamsville Spacelab Planetarium), Sean Gillette (Apple Valley unified School District), and Jim Bader (University of Texas Arlington Planetarium). This was a follow-up to the OBS Primer workshop of 2021 March 24. The workshop was organized by Karrie Berglund. Video on Youtube. Chat.

  • 2021 Mar 26. Interactive virtual planetarium experiences, Part 2." Three interactive virtual planetarium veterans lead short presentations. Guilherme Frederico Marranghello of the Planetario da Unipampa in Brazil discusses their past virtual programs and plans for future programs. Caity Sullivan from the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts demonstrates using virtual audio cables and OBS Ninja. Kyle Doane from Digitalis in Bremerton, Washington provides ideas for adding theatrical flair using OBS's green screen and a few props. Discussion and feedback from the audience after each presentation. See seminar recording. Chat.

  • 2021 Mar 24. OBS Primer Workshop was led by Adam Thanz, from the Bays Mountain Planetarium (thanks Adam!). Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is available free at The workshop was organized by Karrie Berglund, in response to requests received at the February 26 Zoom Seminar. Workshop recording. Workshop outline (PDF). Anti-Circle_GreenScreen.png - Anti-Star_GreenScreen

  • 2021 Feb 26. Interactive virtual planetarium experiences, Part 1: How did they do that? A few veteran virtual virtuosos do short interactive virtual planetarium segments, and explain how they made the magic happen. Special attention paid to Open Broadcaster Software (OBS;, that multi-platform open source application for video recording and live streaming that many planetarians are learning to use. [This was the first Planetarians' Zoom Seminar that was zoom-bombed, so the recording has been edited to remove most objectionable segments.] Presenters: Amie Gallagher, Dave Cuomo, and Rod Kennedy; organizer: Karrie Berglund. See seminar recording. Chat. See Tips and Techniques on Virtual Planetarium Programs.


    • 2020 Dec 18 2020. A visit to Alaska's first planetarium. Hosts: Rosemary Walling (Board member), Stephen Kocsis (Board secretary), Christina Della Rosa (Board president), and David Hanson (Board member). PPA president Karl von Ahnen introduces boardmembers Rosemary, Stephen, and Christina of the Marie Drake planetarium in Juneau Alaska. This is an all-volunteer/free-to-everyone planetarium, which recently completed a very successful fundraising campaign. Presentation + Q&A (1 hr 18 min). Chat.

    • 30 Oct 2020. Use Images and Videos in Your Planetarium...Legally. Chris Reed. Can you take an image from NASA's website and use it in a production without permission? A video clip from YouTube? Is it fair use if I only use it for less than 30 seconds? What about the educational use exception (does that even exist)? Learn more about copyright issues with using images and video clips in your productions -- and how to avoid them. Chris Reed previously presented the 28 June 2019 Planetarians' Webinar on "Use Music in Your Planetarium...Legally" (below). Chris is a Los Angeles-based lawyer specializing in intellectual property, First Amendment, antitrust, and commercial litigation in the media and entertainment industry. Presentation + Q&A (1 hr 29 min). Chat.

    • 26 June 2020. VJ-ing with NestDrop in the Dome, Jason Fletcher, Associate Producer and 3D animator at the Charles Hayden Planetarium, Museum of Science, Boston. Take your evening music shows to the next level with dome visuals which react to the music. Learn how to get NestDrop visuals running on your dome system. Gain access to our custom VJ software and library of 9,800 of curated presets. Learn about the Spout realtime video sharing framework. Experiment with VJ-ing in the dome. Presentation + Q&A (1 hr 4 min). [See better resolution diagrams that Jason showed: CaptureServer, DigistarOption1, DigistarOption2, NestMap, Recording4k.]

    • 29 May 2020. NASA Working For You: the Museum Alliance, Jeffrey Nee, Informal Education Specialist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Have your own dedicated help line for all things NASA, space exploration, and STEAM education. The NASA Museum Alliance supports museums and planetariums around the world with professional development, custom resources, and personalized assistance with planetarium shows as well as interactive dome curriculum. Connection to this recording is through NASA. You must be a member of the NASA Museum Alliance (free) to sign in and access the recording. You can sign up for an account here:

We've all attended live interactive planetarium presentations that were so enjoyable we wish they would never end. On the flip side are those programs that seem to drag on and on and on. In this LIPS-style workshop, we worked in small and large groups to identify qualities of successful and unsuccessful interactive planetarium programs. Karrie Berglund is Chief LIPS (Live Interactive Planetarium Symposium) Instigator and Director of Education for Digitalis. See Karrie's notes from the Discussion Groups.

    • 27 March 2020. Big Astronomy: (Nearly) Free Show and Great Resources. Renae Kerrigan (Planetarium Director at Peoria Riverfront Museum), Shannon Schmoll (Planetarium Director at Abrams Planetarium), Tiffany Wolbrecht (Planetarium Lecturer at Ward Beecher Planetarium). Big Astronomy is a NSF funded project to explore the Dome+ model – a planetarium show distributed for a minimal fee in both English and Spanish along with a website that hosts resources and live programs to extend learning beyond the dome. Research on the effectiveness of this method will be carried out by Michigan State University. Learn more about the project and the resources that will be available to your planetarium in this presentation. Presentation ((37:23) - | - Q&A (26:36)

    • 28 February 2020. NITARP: Astronomy Research Experience for Astronomy Educators. Dr. Luisa Rebull (NITARP Director, Caltech, Pasadena, California) and Geoff Holt (Planetarium Director, Madison Metropolitan School District Planetarium, Madison, Wisconsin. NITARP (NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program) gives educators first-hand experience doing authentic astronomy research. Planetarians who have participated described it as an amazing professional development experience that has had major impacts on their teaching. Luisa Rebull gave an overview of the program with details on when and how to apply; and Geoff Holt shares his experience participating on a NITARP research team in 2019. Presentation (30:11) - | - Q&A (28:29).

    • 31 January2020. Perceived Education and Entertainment Value in Live and Pre-recorded Planetarium Programs. Emily Peavy, Planetarium Technician and Support Facilitator, Imiloa Astronomy Center, Hilo Hawai`i. It is an age-old (albeit confounding) debate about the relative merits of live and pre-recorded programs. Throw in contrasting views about education versus entertainment goals under the dome and you may have thoroughly confounded the discussion. In this seminar, Emily Peavy casts some light and clarity on the issues in telling about a research project that she described in the latest issue of the Planetarian. Presentation (37:58) -|- Q&A (25:13).


    • [The Nov 2019 PZS was an informal "coffee break" mostly for PPA members—not recorded]

    • 2019 October 25. Showing recent satellite imagery in your dome. Marc Horat, Planetarium director, Swiss Museum of Transport, Lucerne, Switzerland. How to get and use data and imagery from NOAA for a show with live presentation, expanding usual topics to include a focus on Earth (weather patterns, hurricanes, sea ice, climate change). Audiences are pleasantly surprised, not expecting a planetarium to be able to show such imagery/data that were available only days or even minutes ago. Learn about workflows and experiences for finding the data, processing it and presenting it in a planetarium. Presentation (35:56) -|- Q&A (9:28).

    • 2019 August 30. Planetarium Educators Workshop 3Organizational Patterns, examining and brainstorming the many different ways in which you can organize planetarium experiences for your audiences. Module 3 of Planetarium Educator's Workshops. Workshop video.

    • 2019 June 28, Planetarians' Webinar: Use Music in Your Planetarium...Legally. Chris Reed. Many planetarians ignore the copyright issues surrounding the use of commercially available music in the planetarium, while others, fearing the unknown, simply avoid using music in their productions. Still others believe, erroneously, that so long as a facility is covered by licenses from the likes of ASCAP or BMI, they are free to use music in their shows. Expert knowledge and questions answered in this webinar. Presentation -|- Q&A.

    • 2019 May 31, Planetarians' Webinar: Planetarium Educator’s Workshop - Part 2 (of 9): A Framework for Examining Planetarium Programs. Facilitator: Alan Gould, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley. Based on Planetarium Educator's Workshop Guide, this part involves a lively discussion about the kinds of programs participants would like to present, taking into account three key factors: the audience, the topic, and the presenter. Workshop video. Chat.

    • 2019 April 26, Planetarium Educator’s Workshop - Part 1 (of 9): Communication. Facilitator: Alan Gould, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley. Based on Planetarium Educator's Workshop Guide ( this part is about the significance and value of audience interaction with planetarium presenters. This was the first time such a workshop has been attempted online in videoconference mode with significant use of the chat function. Workshop video (1:05:00)

    • 2019 March 29, Getting Started with Educational Research in the Planetarium. Dr. Julia D. Plummer, Associate Professor of Science Education at Penn State, engaged in research on the design of learning environments that support children's spatial thinking and science practices in the domain of astronomy. Presentation and discussion on designing and implementing educational research in the planetarium including the importance of using research literature, the relationship between research questions and the specifics of your research methods (data collection, how many participants to include, whether to include a control group), and the strengths and weaknesses of different research methods (e.g comparing multiple-choice questions to open-ended response methods). Seminar -|- Q&A.

    • 2019 Feb 22, Bridging Citizen Science and working-class neighborhoods. Rosalía Lugo, M.Ed; Program Manager Adler Planetarium. ...empowering people of all ages to participate and make an impact on real science research. Presentation -|- Q&A.

    • 2019 Jan 25. Active Learning in a planetarium - for 100 students at a time! Dr. Douglas Duncan, Director, Fiske Planetarium 2002-2018, Dept. of Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado. Presentation -|- Q&A.


    • 2018 Nov 30. Volcanism in the Inner Solar System. Justin Filiberto, Staff Scientist, Lunar & Planetary Institute. Presentation -|- Q&A.

    • 2018 Oct 26. New Views of Lunar Volcanism from Orbit. Dr. Julie D. Stopar, Staff Scientist, Lunar & Planetary Institute. Presentation -|- Q&A.

    • 2018 Aug 31. Public Relations & The Planetarium. Michael McConville, Spitz, Inc., Chadds Ford, PA. Presentation -|- Q&A.

    • 2018 July 27. Creating a New Live Planetarium Show on Polar Science. Dave Cuomo, Pacific Science Center, Seattle. Presentation -|- Q&A.

    • 2018 May 25. Developing and Implementing NGSS-aligned, Live, Interactive School Shows. Mary Holt, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco. Presentation -|- Q&A.

    • 2018 Apr 27. The IPS Data to Dome Initiative. Mark Subbarao, Adler Planetarium, Chicago, Illinois. Presentation -|- Q&A.

    • 2018 Mar 30. What Is Viz? Ryan Wyatt, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco. Presentation -|- Q&A.

    • 2018 Feb 23. Educational Research on Teaching Seasons in a Digital Planetarium. Ka Chun Yu, Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Presentation -|- Q&A.