Imagine an entire solar system that can be fit into the truck of a car. As part of the Lincoln County Public Library’s summer reading schedule, a planetarium was brought to the James W. Warren Citizens Center on Wednesday. Those that attended were able to take a narrated, interstellar journey.

The StarLab Planetarium, which is on loan to the library for the next two weeks and will be brought to various locations throughout the county, looks like a black bouncy house and is blown up just like one. Once inside and the program starts, it’s a wild, somewhat dizzying ride as planets, moons, comets, asteroids and stars, many in 3D, move across the top of the dome. Unlike a bouncy house though, while on this ride, children and adults receive an galactic education. 

Most of the kids that we’ll reach today have never been to a planetarium,” said Ana Carnes, a Lincoln County Public Library assistant as she set up the sound system inside the planetarium. “They’ll experience space like they’ve never experienced before. This is the first time the library has done anything of this size for its summer reading program. It’s a great way of getting new people involved. I think when you learn outside of a textbook, it gets people more excited about what they’re learning about.”

As the children entered the dome, four at a time to prevent it from deflating, they chattered excitedly. As soon as the program started, there was silence as they were absorbed into the 28 minute long program. From the outside, you could see the shape of their heads as they looked up and around to better view the top and sides of the dome.

“It’s amazing that we can bring this type of learning experience to a town that doesn’t have a planetarium and teach kids all the wonderful things that they can learn,” Carnes said. “It sets up just like a bouncy house and only takes about 15 minutes to blow up. It holds between 18-20 people including the projector. It’s already been at the been Shanklin Library and was wildly popular. I love astronomy and wanted to be an astronaut as a kid. I’ve even learned new things from this program.”

The StarLab Planetarium is on loan to the library for the next two weeks. Pre-registration is necessary due to space limitations. Contact the main library for more information.

In addition to the StartLab Planetarium, there are many more space-inspired programs offered by the Lincoln County Public Library throughout the summer.

A “Sky Full of Stars” is a program designed for rising first to fifth graders where children will learn how to create nebula in a jar.  

June 27 at 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. at the Charles R. Jonas Library, 306 West Main Street in Lincolnton

July 9 at 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. at the West Lincoln Branch Library, 5545 West Highway 27 in Vale

The “Alien Encounter Escape Room,” geared towards teens, will the use of robotics to successfully escape. 

June 17 at 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the Florence Shanklin Library (pre-registration is required for this event and space is limited)

July 18 at 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. at the West Lincoln Branch Library

July 24 at 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the Charles R. Jonas Library

The Bright Star Theatre, an awarding winning traveling theater troop that performs all over the United States, will do two performances of their show, “One Small Step” on June 25.  

10:30 - 11:30am at Lincolnton High School, 803 North Aspen Street in Lincolnton

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. at Lincoln Charter School

Seven time world record holding “bubbleologist” Steve Langley will present “The Soap Bubble Circus” at the Citizens Center on July 8 from 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.   

The Grey Seal Puppets will present their show, “A Tangle of Tales” at the Citizens Center on July 23 from 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.   

Any child who completes the summer learning program will receive a free ticket to the Hickory Crawdads baseball game on Friday, July 26 at 6:00 p.m.

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