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Explore 'Dark Matter' at Bays Mountain Park

Staff report • Feb 26, 2019 at 2:41 PM

KINGSPORT — It’s time for you to venture to new celestial horizons and explore the universe’s darkest mysteries at Bays Mountain Park.

Park officials have announced the main and alternative features now showing in the planetarium through May.


The main feature, “The Dark Matter Mystery,” explores questions that researchers all over the world are trying to answer. What keeps galaxies together? What are the building blocks of the universe, and what makes it look the way it does today?

Approximately one quarter of the universe is filled with a mysterious glue called dark matter. Scientists know it’s out there, but what it’s made out of is one of the biggest questions in contemporary astrophysics.

In this planetarium show, you’ll join scientists on their hunt for dark matter with experiments in space and deep underground. Will they be able to solve the mystery?


Returning to the planetarium this spring as the alternate feature is “Exploring New Horizons.” This in-house production takes an exciting look at the New Horizons spacecraft’s flyby of Pluto.

Following the show you’ll hear an update on the space probe’s recent flyby of Ultima Thule, the farthest solar system object to be explored. This show is perfect for the entire family and focuses on planetary exploration, discovery and how it affects our understanding of the solar system.

The show is followed by a live tour of the current night sky.


“The Dark Matter Mystery” is now showing Tuesday through Friday at 4 p.m. and weekends at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. “Exploring New Horizons” is showing Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Both shows last approximately 35 minutes.


If you prefer a more hands-on experience, Bays Mountain Park’s free outdoor observing sessions return this spring. “SunWatch” and “StarWatch” offer you great opportunities to learn about stars both near to and far from our planet.

Witness the sun in close detail at “SunWatch” every clear Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the dam. A member of the planetarium staff or the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club will help you look safely through a telescope at the sun. Keep an eye out for dark patches — those may be sunspots larger than the Earth.

On Saturday evenings in March and April, the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club hosts “StarWatch.” This free program gives you a chance to observe the night sky in all its splendor from the top of the mountain. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, an alternate activity will be held in the planetarium theater. “StarWatch” dates for this spring are March 2 and 9 at 7 p.m.; March 16, 23 and 30 at 8 p.m.; and every Saturday in April at 8:30 p.m.

All observing sessions are free, though park entrance fees apply. Planetarium tickets are $5 per person. Children 5 and younger receive free admission with a paying adult, and Park Association members also receive free admission.

For more information on Bays Mountain’s planetarium shows or group ticket costs, visit baysmountain.com or call (423) 229-9447.