The WVHS Planetarium

Indian Prairie School District 204

About the Planetarium

In 1975, the Waubonsie Valley High School Planetarium opened with the high school. While housed at Waubonsie Valley High School, the planetarium is the science and technology center for Indian Prairie School District 204.

The WVHS Planetarium serves students of Indian Prairie School District 204 by providing astronomy programs to students at their grade level. Every program is presented live in order to provide lessons directly linked to learning standards and classroom curriculum. In the 2008-2009 school year 20,000 people visited the WVHS Planetarium to learn about the night sky. This was the highest attendance in the planetarium's history.

The planetarium also opens its doors to the local community. Everyday the planetarium welcomes various groups including field trips, scouts, the public, and other organizations. Programs currently being offered include family nights and scout programs. Along with serving the local community, the WVHS Planetarium is affiliated with regional and national organizations.

The WVHS Planetarium was selected by NASA to participate in a national unveiling of a new image of the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101). Only 118 locations were selected across the United States. On February 20, 2009 four hundred people participated in the unveiling event held at Waubonsie Valley High School. The new image will permanently hang in the planetarium for visitors to enjoy.
 

The Naperville Astronomical Association & the WVHS Planetarium celebrated the International Year of Astronomy 2009 with A DAY OF ASTRONOMY on Saturday, October 3rd, 2009. The free public event included exhibits from Adler Planetarium, FermiLabs, SciTech, NAA, and Illinois Coalition for Residential Outdoor Lighting. Activities included lectures, planetarium programs, workshops, telescope observations, door prizes, etc. Several hundred visitors of all ages participated in the event.

The WVHS Planetarium celebrated its 40th Anniversary during the 2015-16 school year. Read the Naperville Sun's Article. The planetarium hosted a Night of Science on Friday March 3rd, 2016. Several hundred visitors sang 'Happy Birthday' to Big Blue Guy with blue iced cupcakes. 

What is a Planetarium?
If you have never heard of a planetarium, you might be thinking that it has something to do with plants or planets. If you know it has to do with the sky, you might be thinking it is a big telescope. If you have a first grader who has been on a field trip to the planetarium, you might have heard about Big Blue Guy.

A planetarium creates an artificial sky, including the sun, moon, stars, and planets, which appears and moves to simulate the real sky. The heart of the planetarium is the star projector, which makes this artificial sky on the dome. Few realize that the WVHS Planetarium and its star projector are original to the high school, which opened in 1975. Our projector is a Minolta Series IIB, which means little to a first grader. As anyone enters the planetarium, the projector is hard to miss. It stands 15 feet high, has two ends that look like heads with eyes, and is blue all over, hence, the nickname ‘Big Blue Guy’.

What's the difference between an Observatory & Planetarium?
Observatories have telescopes which are instruments that are used to view distant objects. Through a telescope you view the real sky. Planetariums have star projectors that make an artificial sky that looks like the sky you would see with your eyes.

Why come to a planetarium when you can see the real thing in your own backyard?
Even though it is artificial, the planetarium offers many advantages for stargazing. Outdoor stargazers must contend with the cold, cloud cover, unwanted light from streets, and the city glow in general. The star projector can also change time. Visitors see the night sky every program, no matter what time the program starts.

Directors of the WVHS Planetarium
 
 William "Bill" Hill 1974-1979
  • First Science Department Chair at Waubonsie Valley High School.
  • Oversaw the construction of the planetarium and the installation of the equipment.
  • Retired in 1979 after a 35 year career as a public school teacher.
 Dr. Jeffery Hunt 1979-1996
  •  
  •  
  •  
 Mary Schindewolf Masui 1996-2006

 
 Stephanie Gove Rybka 2006-present
  •  
 

 


^

Contact Info

Director: Stephanie Rybka

2590 Ogden Avenue (map)
Aurora, IL 60504

Office: 630.375.3247
Email: stephanie_rybka@ipsd.org

Is there something you'd like to tell us? We'd love to hear it!

Mailing List / Twitter

Sign up here for regular email updates from the Planetarium.

Follow us on Twitter to get the latest news and info:

Visit our Facebook page

©Indian Prairie Community Unit School District 204, serving Aurora, Naperville, Bolingbrook, & Plainfield, IL. Login