Best Stargazing

Kent State Planetarium

The skies over Northeast Ohio are obscured by the old sodium lamps near the steel factory and the constant glow of suburban sprawl. Luckily, Kent State University has an air-conditioned 125-seat planetarium that can show you a complete view of the heavens. Astronomy nerds at KSU have used this facility for years - baking out and listening to Pink Floyd during lectures - but most backyard stargazers don't realize the planetarium is open to the public. Located in Smith Hall, the facility houses a state-of-the-art globe projector, which rises out of the floor at the push of a button, like something out of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Once the lights go down, a curved ceiling stretching over an entire wing of the science department shows a scale model of the universe. Several public screenings are scheduled throughout the year, but small groups can also reserve the room whenever they want with a simple phone call. Best of all, it's free! Current programs include a look at the evolution of stars in The Springtime of the Universe and astronomical legends of Native Americans in The People. A word of advice: Smoke your pot before you show up.