You've probably heard the story of Christmas hundreds of times, but have you ever experienced it by seeing what the Three Kings saw as they traversed afar and the shepherds as they watched their flocks by night? You can from November through mid-January when you visit The Star Barn Planetarium.
The Star Barn Planetarium
The Star Barn Planetarium is located in Cave Creek, Arizona at the home of Ron Walker, a retired electrical engineer. He hosts presentations throughout the year including "Introduction to the Night Sky" and "Around the World in 80 Minutes."
Ron Walker with the projector
Each November, he resets the projector back 2,000 years for his special "Star of Bethlehem" show which runs through mid-January and shows visitors the same sky and constellations the Magi and shepherds saw as they searched for the Christ Child.
A view of the night sky taken with the projector (c) Star Barn Planetarium
All shows at the Star Barn Planetarium last about an hour and are suitable for all ages. Ron narrates them himself and makes them entertaining as well as informative. Visitors not only learn about the stars and constellations but leave understanding the why, where, and how around them.
You don't see a planetarium at someone's house every day. So, it's no surprise that people often ask Ron what inspired him to build one. As a child growing up in Chicago, he always had an interest in astronomy and wanted to build a planetarium so he could show people the beauty and brightness of the night sky with no clouds or light pollution.
When the Scobee Planetarium
at San Antonio College
announced that it was accepting bids for a museum-grade planetarium projector, he submitted a bid and won. One of the requirements was that he pick it up within two weeks. So, he drove to San Antonio, dismantled the projector and transported it to its new home in Cave Creek.
After wrangling with local government officials, he got approval to build a 30-foot dome to house the projector and his dream became a reality. The Star Barn Planetarium had its first show in June 2014 and has continued to be a private planetarium where individuals, families, and school and scouting groups can learn about the wonders of the universe.
Upper star globe
The projector can reproduce around 6,000 stars and replicate the night sky anywhere in the world 25,000 years into the past or future. Its reproduction and placement of the night sky are remarkably accurate—much more so than the all-sky movie videos that are available. If you walk outside, the sky you see is the same as you see in the Star Barn at any given time.
Lower star globe
The Star Barn has seating for about 25-35 people and can accommodate larger groups with advance notice. Parking is available for around four or five cars, and additional parking is available if needed. There's no admission charge, but donations are gratefully accepted. Since The Star Barn is located at a private home, there are no concessions or facilities.
To schedule a time to see "Star of Bethlehem," contact Ron by email at email@example.com or call (480) 488-3952 and leave a message. When you arrive, have a seat and prepare to be transported back to the Middle East circa 1 AD and join the Magi and shepherds in their quest to find the stable where Jesus Christ was born.