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Best Place to Stargaze Indoors (2012)
J. Frederic Ching Planetarium
Hartnell College, 411 Central Ave., Salinas
Composer John Adams and lyricist June Jordon wrote an opera called I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky, a modern work that can be refigured as the theme for the county’s only planetarium. The 30-foot diameter dome is 50 years old this year but more celestial than ever thanks in part to creative programming and to digital upgrades. Andy Kreyche, resident astronomy expert and planetarium educator since 2007, has presided over the family-friendly programs—including an astronaut talk, visual moon trips, deconstructions of star matter, peeks into NASA’s inner workings, science day activities, and a whole bevy of kids’ programs—to connect the dots between the constellations and imaginations. And grown-ups have really dug the sell-out Cheeky Spanks throwback concerts backed by the spacey visuals. Double-header shows run every Friday during the school year, for a mere $4-$6 for the visual and scientific treats.