I wrote briefly about the opening of OCC’s Planetarium back in March, but I was finally able to check it out for myself this past weekend. My conclusion: a must visit for any curious soul. We planned our visit around the showing of The Magic Tree House: Space Mission, a short film cleverly designed to show you space while making you feel like you have stepped into one of the popular Tree House stories written by Mary Pope Osborne (if you have had a 1st grader, you are probably familiar with this series). And of course, this was not your average theater. All shows at the planetarium are presented on a 50-foot dome projection screen which give you a full-on immersive experience. My 4-year-old said “I feel like I am in a spaceship,” when she sat down under the screen of stars. There was a brief presentation by a planetarium host which was followed by the feature presentation, and then a “tour” of constellations afterwards. I found some information about the North Star to be particularly interesting and ended up researching a bit when I got home. The whole presentation including the film lasted about an hour.
The kids (especially the 7-year-olds in our group) loved The Magic Treehouse film, although my daughter did admit that she wished she had been able to see the characters of Jack and Annie (rather than being mere observers, the immersive style of the film had us as the audience seeing from the same vantage point as Jack and Annie). The 4-year-olds, while interested, were a little more “wiggly.” 🙂
After the show, we explored the lobby where we observed the Foucault Pendulum which, besides the Dome Theater, was my favorite part. Also in the lobby (and free to visit) was the NOAA Science on a Sphere globe, and some interactive computers. Depending on the age of the children and your overall interest, I would say to allot 30 minutes (us) to an hour exploring the lobby.
The feature films change on a regular basis. The last performance of The Magic Tree House and the other film currently showing, Capcom Go, will be on September 29, 2019. The next scheduled films are To Worlds Beyond and Phantom of the Universe.
Tickets for the films can be purchased online ($6 for adults and $5 for children) or at the planetarium. There is no fee to explore the lobby.
Orange Coast College • 2701 Fairview Road • Costa Mesa 92626
Planetarium Parking in Lot E off Merrimack Way