There was an audible gasp from most of the crowd as they stepped into the new T.C. Hopper Planetarium at Roper Mountain Science Center for the 6:00 pm showing of Starry Nights in Greenville, SC. After going through a nearly year-long $1 million-plus renovation in 2017, the Roper Mountain planetarium is one of Greenville’s most amazing gems, and it is truly stunning.
The RMSC is part of the Greenville County School System and they strive to engage kids of all ages in the sciences in ways that are imaginative, fun, and memorable. RMSC is truly one of the coolest things you can do here and Starry Nights at the only planetarium in Greenville, SC is a favorite activity of not only us here at Kidding Around but lots of Greenville families.
Friday Starry Nights at Roper Mountain Science Center
Being somewhat of a science and space nerd, I could not wait for Starry Nights to open. I had only ever been to a planetarium in elementary school and I barely remembered it. However, I’ve always been fascinated with space and was convinced my calling was an astronaut after my mom took me to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida once. I got to go there with my own kids last summer and it was incredible. I was resurrecting those astronaut dreams again in my head.
While working for NASA didn’t pan out, enjoying the new RMSC planetarium is a close enough second place. Being the only planetarium near Greenville, SC makes it a special place to visit while in the Upstate.
The lobby of the planetarium consists of interactive video games, space memorabilia from movies and Disney, and building block-type games where kids can pass the time while they wait to get into the show.
There are three shows currently playing at the planetarium on Friday nights, at 4:30 pm, 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm, the earlier one being geared more toward young kids. Each show starts with a 15-minute pre-show that includes what the night sky looks like that night and how to pick out constellations. The way the show is presented makes you feel like you are lying on your back outside just checking out the night sky, which is certainly aided by the reclining seats.
The shows I attended ended with a life-like ride on a roller-coaster on Mars. I love roller coasters so this was a treat.
Cool Facts about the Hooper Planetarium
So what does it feel like inside the planetarium? My first emotion was relaxation. Reclining on the seats and gazing at the stars, the planets, and Earth evokes almost a sense of smallness in the universe if that makes sense. The sheer magnitude of the screen and the state-of-the-art room is astounding. It really makes you feel like you are a part of a space flight or the Mars roller-coaster, or on a blanket outside at night.
The planetarium was significantly renovated in 2017 and is so well done. The dome is a 360-degree immersion dome with 4K projection and incredible surround sound. It’s the only planetarium in the country to have what is called the Spitz 4K IQ projection system, which basically means it is super awesome and the experience is nearly unmatched anywhere else in the country.
Before the show, the emcee gives the audience a little show-and-tell of the light system, the 360 immersion sensation and elicits tons of “oohs” and “ahhhs” for a good ten minutes. Totally worth it.
The Daniel Observatory at Roper Mountain Science Center
The Daniel Observatory houses the 23″ refractor telescope, only the eighth of its kind in the country. It is big, like really big. Whatever you are thinking, think bigger. To look through the telescope, you have to climb a ladder.
Since I’m such a nerd, I was instantly wowed by this ginormous telescope. The RMSC staff helps visitors to look through the telescope and tells them what they are seeing. They also have lots of gadgets and big screens to help provide more information about the galaxy and stars and all the cool things going on inside the observatory.
Buying Tickets for Friday Starry Nights
Friday Starry Nights is offered every Friday at the RMSC with three shows – one at 4:30 pm, 6 pm, and the final at 7:30 pm. They are about an hour long and the 4:30 pm and 6:00 pm shows are certainly geared more towards younger children ages four and up. I brought my six-year-old and she loved it. There were kids there much younger and others a lot older.
RMSC does not recommend bringing kids under age 3. If your child (or you) needs to leave for some reason, the staff is very accommodating and attentive and will light up the emergency lights on the stairs so you can get out easily.
Tickets must be purchased online and sell out fast. Tickets are $6 for adults and $5 for kids ages 3-12, military and senior citizens. RMSC members and children three and under are free.
Roper Mountain Science Center
402 Roper Mountain Rd, Greenville
Have you been to see Starry Nights yet?
There’s more to love about RMSC!
See more about Roper Mountain Science Center in our review.