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UT’s Ritter Planetarium to debut ‘Santa’s Secret Star’ Dec. 5

The University of Toledo Fulldome Studio (UTFS) will premiere its first production, “Santa’s Secret Star,” Friday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ritter Planetarium. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children.

“Santa’s Secret Star” will run Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m. through Dec. 20.

The 23-minute program geared toward children in kindergarten through second grade tells the story of how Santa uses astronomy to plan his annual trip around the world. A teacher’s guide and other resources to help further the educational impact of the program will be available.

“Santa’s Secret Star” is based on a planetarium program that Alex Mak, associate planetarium director, created in 1988.

“We’ve updated the script and have created a stunning visual adaptation,” Mak said.

Fulldome programs are immersive, 3D experiences that require a special projection system and are featured in modern, digital planetariums. UT’s fulldome projector, the Spitz SciDome XD, was installed in 2011. Creation of fulldome programs involves a large production crew and can be costly.

“We don’t have all of the needed talent on our small planetarium staff, but it occurred to us that UT, as a whole, does,” Mak said. “By combining our talent with that of others at UT, we have put together a team that can produce high-quality programs for a reasonable cost.”

“Santa’s Secret Star” will be marketed to other planetariums throughout the United States. Revenue generated will be used to support the Ritter Planetarium and future UTFS productions.

“There are many elements to creating a good program. It has to be scientifically accurate and up-to-date. It has to be interesting, engaging and informative. Finally, it needs visual appeal,” Mak said. “The program has to take full advantage of the technological capabilities of modern projection systems.”

UTFS utilizes talent from departments across campus, including the Center for Creative Instruction, the College of Education and the Art Department, among others.

The UTFS crew is planning its next production and hopes to produce two programs each year.

For more information about the Ritter Planetarium, visit

Media Coverage
The Blade (Dec. 11, 2014)


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