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News & Press: News for Planetarians

Get Dark! with Dark Matter Day

Thursday, September 28, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sharon Shanks
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Sharing from Michael Barnett, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA


Dear colleagues,

The world will celebrate “Dark Matter Day” (see with a variety of local events on and leading up to the formally recognized day on 31 October. We’re happy to offer up the award-winning, dark matter-themed planetarium show Phantom of the Universe ( so you can participate in this global event by hosting a special screening.

“Dark matter,” a term scientists use to explain the vast missing mass of the universe, is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe, and we still don’t know what it is. Just as Renaissance-era astronomer Copernicus showed that that Earth was not the center of the universe, dark matter has evolved our understanding of visible matter, which we now know to be just a small part of the total mass of the universe.

One easy way to participate in Dark Matter Day is to consider a special airing of Phantom of the Universe on 31 October, or on a day preceding that date. The show explores many aspects of the hunt for dark matter and can serve as an easy building block for a Dark Matter Day-themed program. You could consider:

  • adding a simple Q&A or a discussion about dark matter before or after the show,
  • inviting a local dark matter researcher to give a talk in person or via video feed, and/or 
  • even live-stream the event online to expand the reach of your event. (At this link, there are some suggested resources for hosting an event.)

We hope the planetarium show will captivate your audience to learn more about the quest of scientists who are working like detectives to solve dark matter’s mysteries, and will help your audience to understand the tools of the trade these scientists are using in their physics “forensics.”

Dark Matter Day was conceived by an international group of communicators at particle physics & cosmology laboratories that is known as the Interactions Collaboration (, and we’re happy to coordinate with the Interactions group to offer Phantom of the Universe  for a Dark Matter Day event. They are preparing a variety of materials for use in these events.

Phantom of the Universe has now been seen or will be seen by visitors in more than 140 planetariums in 37 countries and five continents. It has been or is being translated into 16 languages, including: Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. On May 20, it was recognized at the International Fulldome Festival in Jena, Germany, with an “Honorable Mention for Outstanding and Innovative Production.”

Either the Interactions Collaboration or we can help locate a dark matter researcher to participate in your event. Please contact us at if you wish to organize a Dark Matter Day program around Phantom of the Universe, and you can also reach out directly to the Dark Matter Day organizers at for help in planning, hosting, and promoting a dark matter-themed event.

Enjoy the show, and enjoy Dark Matter Day!

Michael Barnett

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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