History of the Planetarium About the Shows Calendar of Events Science Days
Impact Earth!

"Impact Earth!"

Impact Earth! is a planetarium show that teaches about meteors, meteorites, asteroids, and comets. It includes results from recent NASA missions and about the dangers they can pose to life on Earth. It shows dramatically the effects of the Chixulub and Tungusta events, plus the Pallasite impact that resulted in the Brenham meteorite fall, and describes ways that asteroid hunters seek new objects in the solar system, and how ground penetrating radar is used to find meteorites that have survived to the Earth's surface. Narrated by astronaut Tom Jones, it also discusses ways that humans might try to deflect an asteroid or comet that is on a collision course with Earth.

Millions of asteroids and comets lurk among the planets -- left over bits and pieces from the solar system’s formation four and a half billion years ago. Because of them, we live in a dangerous cosmic shooting gallery and impacts still shape the surfaces of the planets and moons. For instance, without warning on Feb. 15, 2013, an asteroid fragment struck Siberia and exploded over a populated area close to the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. Dozens of building- and car-mounted video cameras captured the meteor’s descent and the shadows it cast, making it the most documented meteor event in history. There were no deaths, but about 1,500 injuries occurred, mostly cuts from glass that broke due to the force of the shock wave produced when the meteor broke up in the atmosphere. Sound waves from this explosion circled the Earth several times.

This show was created under NASA Cooperative Agreement NCC5-316 to Rice University in conjunction with the Houston Museum of Natural Science as part of the "Immersive Earth" project, part of the REASoN program.


About the planetarium

We are open during the fall and spring semesters when Radford University is open. The RU Planetarium is located on the ground floor of Curie Hall in Room 43. The main entrance to the planetarium is through the doors to the courtyard between Curie Hall and Martin Hall. A campus map showing these locations are here. This map shows Parking Lot A, and Lots B & C where you are welcome to park for the nighttime and Saturday morning shows. If you are coming with a group (in a bus or a large van) as part of a Science Day tour then you should park in Lot A. Please contact Dr. Herman at rherman@radford.edu for more information about this.

The Radford University Planetarium was constructed in 1970 when Curie Hall was built. The planetarium star projector is a Spitz/Goto Planetarium SG-8 Projector from Goto Optical Mfg. of Tokyo, Japan. There are 32 reclined planetarium seats within the 24-foot diameter dome; an additional 15 free-standing seats are in the planetarium to accommodate larger groups. In addition to the star projector, we have a Newtonian mirror-based full-dome projector for our professionally produced multimedia shows. The planetarium is used for teaching in several classes including Astronomy, Solar System Astronomy, and the Physics Department's Physical Science classes. 

We are also glad to make special arrangements for school groups, scout groups, etc., who might want to visit the planetarium at times other than our regular showtimes. If you have a group that would like to see our planetarium, please contact Dr. Rhett Herman, or email Dr. Herman at rherman@radford.edu .

Help Support the Planetarium

The Department of Physics is pleased to offer our planetarium shows for free to anyone who visits us. You can now help support this continuing endeavor through your gift to the Radford University Planetarium through the Radford University Foundation. You can make a gift directly to the RU Planetarium by clicking on this link. Where you are asked, "Please allocate my gift to:" please select "Other" from the pulldown menu and type "RU Planetarium" into the adjacent space. All funds donated will go for direct support of our planetarium show offerings. Thank you for coming to the shows, and for your continued support.