By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University's popular planetarium shows and "Bad Movie Nights" are back - in a new venue.

The programming, which was put on hold for most of 2020 and '21 due to COVID-19 restrictions, will be held at the Michael and Kimthanh Lê Planetarium and Digital Theater, located in the new Chemistry Building, which opened in April.

"We're excited to finally open the new Michael and Kimthanh Lê Planetarium," said Justin Mason, planetarium director. "We had to unexpectedly close the Pretlow Planetarium earlier than planned because of the pandemic. However, support from the community has been overwhelming. We've had a lot of people who want to see the new space or see the stars and constellations again."

"Bad Movie Night" will return on Oct. 1 with "Teenagers from Outer Space" from 1959. The storyline, according to IMDB: A young alien and a teenage earthling fall in love and plot to stop the alien's race from using Earth as a food-breeding ground for giant lobsters from their planet.

"Bad Movie Night," featuring some of the best and worst sci-fi and horror films, mostly from the 1950s and '60s, will be held on the first Friday of each month. Trivia contests will be held at 6:30 p.m. with the movies starting at 7.

"Some people are just eager to see an old movie at 'Bad Movie Night,'" Mason said. "The magic of these films that are 'so bad they're good' keeps people coming back for more."

The planetarium shows, which resumed in mid-September, are scheduled for Wednesdays at 7 p.m. through mid-December (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). The space-themed presentations are recommended for ages 4 and up.

Mason said about 60 people attended the first show. He added that the planetarium is partnering with ODU's Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT) to develop several virtual field trips for local schools.

The planetarium shows and "Bad Movie Nights" are open to the public; tickets are $3 and can be purchased at the door.

Programming will be shown on the 48-foot dome of the new planetarium, which is the second largest in Virginia. It has a $900,000, high-resolution, dual-laser system that projects images on the dome in 4-K. The new projection system will triple the brightness, quadruple the resolution and provide 16 times as many pixels as Pretlow Planetarium, which had a 40-foot dome.

Visitors and staff will be required to wear face masks that cover both the mouth and nose fully, regardless of vaccination status. Patrons can bring water, but other food or drinks are prohibited.

For the planetarium show schedule, go to this link.

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