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Morehead Planetarium retires "Star of Bethlehem," starts new holiday concert series

Posted November 20, 2011

After 61 years, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center's holiday show "Star of Bethlehem" has been retired. Instead, the Chapel Hill destination will offer a holiday concert series under the planetarium stars.

Morehead staff tells me that the long-time holiday show was designed to work with the planetarium's old projection system, which was decommissioned in April and removed this summer. The "Star of Bethlehem" examined the astronomical phenomena that might explain the legend of the star that led three wise men to the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. The show featured perspectives from scholars in art history, religious studies and science.

In its place, Morehead is starting a new holiday tradition. Its Morehead Holiday Stars Concert Series features holiday and seasonal music next month under the "stars" in the planetarium. Performers include a cappella, bluegrass, handbells and jazz groups. Among the performers is one of my local favorites - the Sandbox band for kids and families - which will perform on Dec. 9.

Tickets for the concerts range from $12 to $28 for the general public. They are on sale now. Click here to see the schedule and buy tickets.

Morehead does have two new fulldome planetarium shows this season. "Solar System Odyssey" opened Nov. 9 and began appearing on Morehead's weekend schedule on Saturday. A second show, "Wildest Weather in the Solar System," should open soon.

Morehead will be open extra days during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Click here for its holiday schedule.

For more Triangle-area holiday fun and activities, check our 2011 Go Ask Mom Holiday Page.

14 Comments

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  • unc70 Nov 22, 2011

    The portable dome can have 25-30 students at a time. It is set up in the gym or similar large room. Certainly not the same quality as being in the Morehead Planetarium, but still a memorable learning experience for second grade students. (And neither can come close to our watching the Zeis contort itself those many years ago.). Won't know how effective an approximation until I see it myself. But the alternatine of coming to Chapel Hill is not an option for most students in NC, certainly not K-5, unlikely at any age for those who need 3-6 hours each way to visit CH. Maybe an overnight trip in high school to Raleigh and CH.

    Other than my small donations and the occasional visit, I am not involved in or privy to how and why various decisions were made at MPSC. I am quite certain they are not part of any anti-Christian conspiracy among atheist liberal elites in CH. Note the handbell concert. FYI church attendance in CH among highest in NC.

  • unc70 Nov 22, 2011

    I will miss the bug-like presence of the Zeis, but it dates from the time of rotary phones and long distance operators! I miss S of B and hope it will be recreated. They did announce that last year was the final season for the Zeis Star, maybe not so clear no replacement this year. I went one last time, only about 30 at that showing.

    The new system can go far beyond the constraints of the Zeis at far less cost than a new Zeis. Shows with the Zeis were specific to MPSC and lots of slide projectors, etc. - several hundred of them! Shows can be licensed to other planetariums, their shows available to MPSC. More exciting, MPSC can now bring a portable "dome" to schools in NC, using the same shows already part of the curricula for science education.

    Lots more on their web site. A greatly expanded mission without the promised state funding. Donors large (GSK) and small (me) help. GSK funds a lot of science education. We need your help, too.

  • LuvLivingInCary Nov 21, 2011

    and to think glaxo put millions of dollars into this with all the bad publicity. maybe they ought to spend another million and get a new zeiss machine and then they could call it state of the art...

  • Science H. Logic Nov 21, 2011

    I also cannot believe that they are not showing Star of Bethlehem this season! I'm barely getting over the cancellation of Horn of the Unicorn, not to mention them shelving The Curse of the Leprechaun!
    And it's hilarious to think that Jesus will just allow this to happen, especially since they took out HIS star projector.
    Lord, what fools these mortals be!

  • LuvLivingInCary Nov 21, 2011

    what's happening out there is ugly at morehead. all focused on the money. i haven't been since they took out the zeiss machine and put the fake digital one. a holiday chorus event in a plantataruim....rolling on the ground...

  • j-lo93 Nov 21, 2011

    WHAT A SHAME. I am SO sick of Christian opportunities and programs getting REPLACED by "holiday" fluff. If I had known about the "Star of Bethlehem", I would've taken my family to see it last Christmas before it got axed. Christians need to stand united, or political correctness will slowly take away our rights.

  • MomOfTwo79 Nov 21, 2011

    Why no advance notice this was going away?! I'd have loved to bring my family to the Star of Bethlehem show one last time!! Now I can't get that chance! Please bring this show back for the new system!!

  • fatty Nov 21, 2011

    The Christian taxpayers of NC ought to go "occupy" the Planetarium until they agree to bring back the Star of Bethlehem show.

  • Mom V Nov 21, 2011

    BOO! Bring the Star of Bethlehem back..I for one will not attend a "Holiday" concert...I prefer to attend CHRISTmas Concerts

  • Tony Rice Nov 21, 2011

    While the concert series sounds interesting I hope the Star of Bethlehem will be brought back with the new full dome projector technology. That show was a holiday tradition for our family.

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