Carr-Fles Planetarium FAQs

What is the Carr-Fles Planetarium? 

The Carr-Fles Planetarium is a facility located at Muskegon Community College that aids in the study of astronomy by projecting images of the stars, planets, and constellations on a domed ceiling. It’s the only planetarium in the Muskegon area and incredibly it is a free educational experience for all who attend. The facility, in Room 135 on the main floor of MCC’s campus, seats 44 and hosts over 5,000 visitors annually. The remodeled and handicapped accessible  facility has ample seating for six visitors in wheelchairs.

How many MCC students use the planetarium and how does it aid in their study? 

The planetarium is used in the teaching of Astronomy 101, a course that has seven sections a year, totaling about 200 students. Without the planetarium, the students would have very little ability to translate what is studied in their textbooks to an experience that demonstrates the wonder of the night sky.

Who visits the planetarium? 

The planetarium hosts an average of 5,000 visitors a year. Besides the MCC students, 2,400 elementary school students visit the planetarium on school day field trips, and 1,700 members of the public attend the free evening programs held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings September through June.

What is the history of the planetarium?

The planetarium opened in 1972. Over 2,305 visitors came to the free shows during the first year. The planetarium in named in honor of Dr. Robert Fles, who served on the first Board of Trustees, and MCC instructor Stan Carr, who taught math and astronomy and was instrumental in getting the planetarium designed and built.

Why is the planetarium important?

The planetarium aids in the study of astronomy for MCC students as it allows instructors to demonstrate concepts presented in textbooks and other non-demonstrative teaching methods. The planetarium also benefits the over 2,400 elementary students who visit each year as it instills a sense of wonder about the universe that helps inspire an interest in science. No matter the age of student, the study of science helps fortify critical thinking skills that are the foundation of a liberal arts education. In addition, the planetarium is important to MCC as a whole; each time a new guest visits the planetarium, they are increasing their awareness of our mission and the value of higher education.

What was the Reach for the Stars campaign?

The successful Reach for the Stars campaign, which concluded in March 2012, raised funds for the $395,000 renovation of the Carr-Fles Planetarium. The "new" planetarium reopens in September 2012 and features state-of-the-art digital projection, sound, and lighting systems, a new library of shows, and a completely updated theater environment with new seats, walls, floor, and domed ceiling. 

Does MCC charge an admission fee to the planetarium?

MCC is dedicated to increasing access to education and promoting the benefits of lifelong learning. To that end, we are committed to keeping this community resource available to all community members without charge. We feel this investment will help improve the overall education of our community.