Despite living most of my life in Fresno, there are still many things I have not seen in the city, especially those that have remained since then (unlike the constant cycle of businesses coming and going). The Downing Planetarium is one of them, located at the Fresno State Campus. Its 74-seat theater features an iconic Minolta MS-10 star projector (an analog “planetarium”; planetarium used to refer to these devices, but the term planetarium has evolved to refer to the entire facility), which projects on a 30-foot hemispherical dome.
There are public programs on one weekend (Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons) every month, with tickets costing $5 (cheaper for students, young children and seniors), with availability for private groups or school trips. The planetarium features star gazing during the days of public programs from dusk to dawn for free. Other than the theater, there’s a lobby, gift shot, and a museum. This month, there are 2 shows available (2 are sold out already), Einstein’s Gravity Playlist and Destination Mars on Friday. It’s recommended to place reservations for the shows rather than buying the tickets onsite, since the shows tend to become sold-out.