News Pulse - State University of New York at New Paltz

John R. Kirk Planetarium reopens

After being closed for 12 years for renovations and upgrades brought about by the PCB fire in 1991, the John R. Kirk Planetarium in the Coykendall Science Building will reopen to the public with a ceremony beginning at 1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 5.

photo of Tom Crepet
Thomas Crepet will use the original Spitz Space Systems A3P projector within the newly refurbished John R. Kirk Planetarium.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, planetarium Director Thomas Crepet will host a free performance, titled “The Realm of Orion,” for 12 students from the New Paltz Middle School and the campus community. This spring, Crepet has put together quality shows that will simulate real events that occur in our skies and space, such as eclipses, black holes and meteor showers.

The primary goal of the planetarium program is education, so it will also feature shows especially geared toward children. Crepet can provide special times and shows for teachers who wish to bring their classes to the planetarium.

photo of John R. Kirk
John R. Kirk (photo from the 1966 Paltzonian yearbook)

John R. Kirk was a faculty member in the philosophy department in the 1960s and ’70s. He was the first director of the New Paltz Planetarium. The planetarium became his special interest and the focal point of his vision and efforts. In addition to college students and local citizens, thousands of school children in the Mid-Hudson Valley were the beneficiaries of his work. Aware of the potential offered by the planetarium, Kirk created a library of outstanding programs, which brought together his knowledge and sensitivity in a unique blend of astronomy, history and classical music. Soon after he died in 1979, the College Faculty petitioned the College Council to name the planetarium after him. Many of today’s shows incorporate much of the classic dialogue and programming from the Kirk years. The taped programs Kirk left behind are a living legacy to his special talents and contributions.

John R. Kirk Planetarum logo

General admission price is $5, and $4 for seniors, children and SUNY New Paltz students with valid identification. Special rates are available for off-campus groups and educational field trips. Seating is limited to 44 people per performance. Reservations are recommended.

For reservations and more information, call 257-STAR (7827), or visit

FEBRUARY 2, 2004
Volume 2, Issue 2

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