John R. Kirk Planetarium reopens on SUNY New Paltz campus

NEW PALTZ — The John R. Kirk Planetarium at the State University of New York at New Paltz will reopen to the public with a ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5, in the Coykendall Science Building.

Planetarium Director Tom Crepet will host a free performance after the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first 44 attendees of the event. The program is titled “The Realm of Orion.”

A primary goal of the planetarium program is education, so SUNY New Paltz is providing special times and shows for teachers who wish to bring their classes. Similar arrangements will be made for special showings for other groups, such as corporate, civic, hospital, church and scouting organizations. Informal scientific workshops can also be arranged for special study topics.

After being closed for 12 years, the planetarium recently underwent $250,000 in renovations. Shows will simulate real events that occur in our skies and space such as eclipses, black holes and meteor showers. Crepet reports that yearly attendance averaged more than 10,000 people when the planetarium was last open, and he now hopes to attract even more visitors.

General admission price is $5, and $4 for seniors, SUNY New Paltz students and staff with valid identification, and children. Special group rates are also available for outside groups and educational field trips. Seating is limited to 44 people per performance, so reservations are recommended. Public shows will be held on most Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

John R. Kirk was a faculty member in the philosophy department at SUNY New Paltz in the 1960s and 70s. As the first director of the New Paltz Planetarium, Kirk created a library of outstanding programs, which brought together his knowledge and sensitivity in a unique blend of astronomy, history and classical music. Soon after he died in 1979, the College Faculty petitioned the College Council to name the planetarium after him.

For program schedule and group information, please call (845) 257-3034 or visit the John R. Kirk Planetarium Web site at