Written by Danielle Taylor | Header photo courtesy of Clarion University

Photo: Clarion University

The Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region has some of the darkest night skies in the eastern United States, and getting to see the universe in all its glory prompts many visitors to wonder about the stories contained in the stars. At Clarion University’s Peirce Planetarium, a monthly “Stars Over Clarion” program explores the history, science, and mythology of the cosmos, and the public is invited to join in.

One of the largest planetariums in Pennsylvania, Peirce Planetarium opened in 1968 and honors the legacy of honors Dr. Donald S. Peirce, teacher and chairman of the science department from 1932 to 1968. It features a 40-foot dome and uses a precision-engineered star ball to create a highly realistic field of clear, sharp stars projected across the dome.

“You really feel like you are outside under the real sky,” says Dr. Sharon Montgomery, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Clarion University. “We are able to simulate any time of night and any time of year from any position in the northern hemisphere.”

Photo: Jeff London

From August to May, the planetarium hosts its free monthly “Stars Over Clarion” programs on the first Thursday and Friday of the month at 7 and 8 p.m. The shows last approximately 50 minutes and highlight the month’s sky and important celestial events, and after the 8 p.m. program, if the weather cooperates, attendees are invited to peer through telescopes and observe the real night sky alongside university astronomers. The regular programs give way to holiday shows at 7 p.m. on the first two Fridays in December, and they take a break in January for the academic recess.

Learn more and discover other interesting places to visit in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to or calling (814) 849-5197.

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