The Best 7 NC Planetariums: Where Is The Best Planetarium Near Me?

Whether you're trying your best to stave off winter hibernation or looking for a unique date idea, NC planetariums are the perfect destination for you, your family, or your date. Ahead, we're zooming in to the seven best NC planetariums where you can catch dazzling displays from some of the best galaxy projectors in the world.

Margaret C Woodson Planetarium is all lit up with LED lights

Check out the brand new LED lights installation at the Margaret C. Woodson Planetarium!

Horizons Unlimited: A Nature Center And Planetarium In Salisbury NC

1636 Parkview Circle, Salisbury, NC 28144

For 50 years, Salisbury and Rowan County citizens have enjoyed hands-on field trips with educational programming for all ages and abilities. Walking into the Margaret C. Woodson Planetarium is like sitting in a 73-seat spaceship-like dome, surrounded by the wonders of the night sky and the vast universe.  Horizons recently gave it a turbo boost with a brand-new laser 4K fish-eye projector! Thanks to the Margaret C. Woodson Foundation, the star projector still twinkles with LED-lit constellations, giving visitors a hyper-realistic night sky experience.

After your stellar adventure in the NC planetarium, get ready to explore our indoor rainforest, where you'll discover the secrets of different vegetation types and the magic of the rainforest ecosystem. Dive into the 1,300-gallon touch pool, where starfish, sea urchins, tropical fish, and other marine wonders await your curious touch! Budding scientists will gravitate to the science labs where dissection programs are available to 7th grade students.

Outside of Kaleideum Museum in Winston-Salem

Plan your visit to Kaleideum ahead by booking your laser show and planetarium tickets online.

Kaleideum Planetarium (North): Check Out The Night Sky Simulation In Winston-Salem NC!

400 W Hanes Mill Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27105

Immerse yourself in the wonders of the cosmos with Kaleideum's multi-media theater. Inside the dome, you'll witness a breathtaking simulation of the night sky, just as if you were stargazing from any spot on Earth.  Stars, NASA images, mind-blowing videos, special effects, and captivating lighting – they've got it all to make the celestial drama come alive! This NC planetarium's programs cater to diverse audiences from preschoolers to adults. Plus, brand new 20-minute laser shows can now be booked daily at 4 PM!

What are some examples of great shows at this NC planetarium? Young astronomers will flock to adventures like “Astro-Moose Goes to Space” while first-time planetarium visitors may opt for a guided tour of the 12 constellations of the zodiac. Other rotating programs at the planetarium include “The Solar System Tour,” “Tour of the Seasons” and “Discover the Earth, Moon, and Sun.”

People gazing up at the dome at the Milholland Planetarium

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the cosmic show in ultra comfortable seating.

The Milholland NC Planetarium At The Catawba Science Center

243 Third Ave NE, Hickory, NC 28603

Future astronomers, get ready for an interstellar adventure at the Millholland Planetarium. With a 65-seat digital theater, giant screen, and a 30-ft dome, they're taking you beyond Earth's limits! Imagine journeying to the center of a black hole, cruising the Sun's surface, and exploring Saturn's rings – the universe is at your fingertips here! Exciting news: the Catawba Science Center has upgraded to a top-notch digital projector, making the Millholand Planetarium shows even more mind-blowing! The new projector lets Milholland NC planetarium ‘dome cast,' bringing visitors live events from other planetariums and live feeds, like NASA's Perseverance landing mission control.

You'll be thanking your lucky stars that there are so many things to do at the Catawba Science Center. Witness the dance of porcupine puffer fish, garden eels, seahorses, and the stars of the show – in a 8,000-gallon shark and stingray habitat! The freshwater gallery boasts a global collection, featuring Amazonian river turtles, freshwater stingrays, and a whopping 6,000-gallon oxbow habitat with a splash of freshwater fish species.

Buzz Lightyear pointing upward at the Cummins Planetarium.

The Cummins Planetarium is Buzz Lightyear-approved.

Cummins Planetarium At The Rocky Mount Imperial Centre For The Arts And Sciences

270 Gay St, Rocky Mount, NC 27804

Founded in 1952, the Rocky Mount Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences is among the pioneers of cultivating immersive havens for young minds. Take their current star attraction at the Cummins Planetarium: Extreme Deep — Mission to the Abyss. From newly-discovered life forms to the Titanic's secrets, become an ROV pilot, explore the Titanic's deck, operate Alvin's robotic arm, and delve into the mysteries of the deep sea. It's a hands-on experience that'll leave you in awe of the technology that lets us explore the ocean floor!

What's outside of the dome? The PNC Live Animal Gallery lets visitors encounter Earth's incredible biodiversity, from reptiles and mammals to fish and insects. Interact gently with sea creatures and dive into the diverse ecosystems of the Carolinas through massive wall displays. Join the Cummins NC planetarium staff for Free Public Star Parties, where the night sky becomes your playground. Free Solar Telescope Viewing events are held periodically, allowing participants to carefully observe sunspots, prominences, and solar flares, guided by trained observers from the Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences. It's daytime astronomy at its finest!

Two people watching a galaxy display at a planetarium

Looking for a unique date idea? How about a planetarium show followed by a romantic dinner?

Visit The James H. Lynn Planetarium — One Of The Largest Planetariums In North Carolina!

1500 E Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28054

Housed at the beloved Schiele Museum, the Lynn Planetarium boasts a domed, 360-degree screen. Winter 2024 is a great time to get your NC planetarium visit in for the year, since the planetarium will be closed for several weeks in May 2024 for construction. Museum directors remark that the planetarium will reopen in June 2024 with brand new seating and aesthetics! In winter 2024, visitors can expect planetarium programs like “Fossils in Space,” “Snow Much Science,” and “Animal Adventures.”

What else makes the Lynn NC Planetarium at the Schiele Museum such a great family-friendly entertainment option? The permanent exhibits and alternating roster of galleries highlight unique and engaging aspects of history, science, and nature. There's even an on-site farm where visitors can explore local flora and fauna and get up close encounters with live animals and farm equipment. If you're looking for a good place to take a walk, the 0.7-mile nature trail is open year-round and perfect for a dog-friendly hike!

People in the audience at Ingram Planetarium

Are you seeing what they're seeing?!

Ingram Planetarium At The Museum Of Coastal Carolina

7625 High Market St, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Here's our pick for the best NC planetarium on the coast — the Ingram Planetarium is a 84-seat theater with a 40-foot domed screen featuring traditional star projector shows and laser shows set to music. Popular planetarium programs in the past have included “Laser Trans-Siberian Orchestra,” “Ancient Skies, Ancient Mysteries,” and “Voyage to Distant Worlds.” Admission to Sky Theater shows is free for members, granting viewing access to programs like “Apollo 11: First Step on the Moon” and “Cosmic Colors.”

If you're vacationing on the NC coast for a spell, your family may love visiting the Museum of Coastal Carolina. After all, combo ticket admission to the museum and one planetarium show will be cheaper together than purchased a la carte. Kids can dip their hands into the live touch tank, try their skill at constructing sand castles, and learn all about the eccentricities of sea stars. Permanent themed galleries impart exciting knowledge and artifacts on megalodon sharks, mastodon teeth, and fighter plane tail wings.

The Morehead Planetarium

The Morehead Planetarium is one of the most beautiful planetariums in NC.

Morehead Planetarium And Science Center: The Best NC Planetarium

250 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

What, you didn't think we were going to exclude the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill from our list of the best planetariums in NC, did you? Pshaw! The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has long held a firm reputation as one of the best NC planetariums. When planning your visit, set aside time for the NC planetarium shows, exhibits, launch lab, and Science LIVE! programs, if you're traveling with avid young scientists. Thrilling star projector shows highlight Galileo and the telescope; earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis; and mysteries of the human brain.

Outside of the dome, visitors can peruse exhibits focused on breakthroughs in the biomedical engineering field, virtual reality, and life-sized man-on-the-moon renditions. The Launch Lab promotes self-guided activities in topics like “light pollution circuits,” where students will design simple circuits and use light-measuring tools to test their unique lamp designs. Science LIVE! shows are included with admission to the Morehead Planetarium and feature a rotating array of live science demonstrations. In “Under Pressure,” for example, demonstrators show the weight of air by crushing a can, bursting balloons with nails, and other combustive tricks!

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