Field Trips | Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
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Field Trips

Students arriving at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center for a field trip.

Field trip groups have been visiting Morehead Planetarium and Science Center for more than 60 years. Morehead knows how to bring science to life, with exciting and inspiring planetarium showsScience Stage shows and Discovery Classes.

Our programming aligns with North Carolina Essential Standards, ensuing that your field trip will enhance your classroom instruction. Morehead’s Guest Relations team works closely with you, so your field trip will be a great educational experience.

ONGOING RENOVATION NOTICE

There will be ongoing renovations in parts of our facility until early Spring 2020. As a result the following programs, exhibits, or spaces will not be available during certain periods:

  • Discovery class programs will be unavailable until Tuesday, November 11.
  • Science Stage programs will be unavailable for field trip reservations until February 2020 at the earliest.
  • Exhibits will be unavailable for field trip reservations for the 2019-20 school year. Exhibits are expected to return in late summer or early fall 2020. 

Planetarium Shows, and Discovery Classes will be the only programs available in Fall 2019 and January 2020. 

Reservation Process

Reservations are available for any group of 10 or more people. We can accommodate groups of most any size, but depending on the total attendance and number of programs your group wishes to see, we may not be able to accommodate the entire group in one day. 

Reservations must be requested (and confirmed) at least 1 week in advance. We are unable to accommodate reservation requests less than a week in advance.

  • Complete one of the online request forms above to start the reservations process. You can request reservations for the below timeframes:
     
    • Summer 2019 reservations: for visits from 6/18/19 - 8/25/19.
      • We will be closed for renovation from Saturday 5/4/19 - Monday 6/17/19
      • Groups will be able to request 2019 Summer reservations starting Monday, March 4.
         
    • School Year 2019-20 Reservations: for visits from 9/10/19 - 5/29/19
      • Science Stage programs unavailable until 2/3/20 due to ongoing renovations.
      • Exhibits will be unavailable until early spring 2020 due to ongoing renovations.
  • Morehead's Reservations team will then contact you to discuss your reservation options and help complete your reservation. 

You are welcome to call Morehead’s Reservations team at 919-962-1236 with any questions.

Group Pricing

Our pricing for group reservations is as follows:

  • First Program: Students/Children $6.25; Adults $7.25 (planetarium shows or Science Stage shows or Discovery Class). Prices are pre-tax.
  • Multiple Program Discount: $4.00 per person (for each additional same day program) . Prices are pre-tax
  • Tax: A tax of 7.5% for state and local sales & use for admissions is applicable to all tickets for planetarium shows only. Tickets for science stage programs or discovery classes are exempt from sales & use tax. Our reservations team can share the pricing/person with tax after your reservation has been booked.
  • Children or adults included in a Morehead membership cannot use their membership benefits for admission during a school field trip or other group visit.

Every student and adult (educators, parents and bus drivers) in your group requires a ticket, and must be counted in your group reservation numbers. We provide one free adult ticket for every 10 students. 

Private Planetarium Shows:(only available after 4:30 PM on weekdays, and non business hours on weekends) Students/Children: $7.25; Adults $8.25. Minimum charge of $400 must be met for any private show reservation. Tax of 7.5% is applicable to private shows.

Program Recommendations

The Planetarium offers 3 different programs for visiting field trips: planetarium showsscience stage programs, and discovery classes (*discovery classes not available during summer months). Click the links to learn more about each category of program. 

If you'd like some help narrowing down which programs will best suit your group - check out our teacher's guide on the right sidebar of this page to see grade level recommendations for all our programs, or feel free to give our reservations team a call/email at 919.962.1236 or mpsc_reservations@unc.edu

Most school groups see one planetarium show, and add on a science stage or discovery class as a second activity, but you're welcome to mix and match programs however you like.

Venue Capacity

Seating is limited in our venues:

Third Parties and Charter Operators

For field trip reservations, it is Morehead’s policy to communicate directly with the school or group visiting in addition to the third party or charter operator. Please include the name of the school and a contact person at the school who we can copy on all email communications.

If a third party arranges a field trip visit, they are financially responsible for the visit, and payment is required two weeks in advance of the visit. "Third party" is defined as a company, organization or individual (charter operator, travel agent, etc.) who is not an employee of the school or group.

Field Trip Subsidies (Scholarships)

Priority Deadline: Monday, 9/16/19 @ 5:00PM.

Thorough the generous gifts of many donors, Morehead is able to offer field trip subsidies, or scholarships, to schools meeting certain criteria. Click here to learn more about what subsidy/scholarship programs we currently have and what the criteria are for each.

If you would like to request a scholarship for your reservation, you will be able to do so when you request your reservation using one of the request forms above, or if you have already booked a reservation and want to be considered for a scholarship, contact our Reservations Manager at 919.843.3522 or by email at rwatt@email.unc.edu.​

The due date to be considered for a scholarship is by 5PM, Monday 9/16/19. Requests received prior to this date will be evaluated at the same time based on level of need, geographic area, date of visit, and date the scholarship was requested. Requests received after the deadline will be reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be added to wait-lists after those who requested prior to the deadline but did not receive an award.

When our reservations staff reviews your request, they evaluate your school for scholarship eligibility and inform you if you've been added to the wait lists. Then, starting on the week of the priority deadline, schools will be informed of their updated scholarship status. If your school is not awarded a scholarship due to insufficient funding, your request will remain on the waitlist should additional funds become available as other schools either cancel or don't use their entire awards - but since this is rare, we advise schools still on the waitlist after the priority deadline to plan as though no scholarship awards will be available for their visit.

Please note that there is never a penalty for canceling because a scholarship application can't be fulfilled. If you have already confirmed a reservation, and will no longer be able to visit due to a lack of scholarship funding, please contact the reservations office to cancel the visit.

Catered Lunch From Area Vendors

Morehead does not coordinate lunch orders as an add-on for field trip groups, with the exception of schools receiving a Morehead scholarship with dedicated funds for lunch orders. 

However, schools are welcome to place catered lunch orders with area vendors. Below is a list of lunch vendors who have expressed an interest in serving school field trips, and are able to deliver catered lunches on-site during your visit to Morehead. Please feel free to contact them for pricing and placing your order. Payments must be made directly to the vendor, and cannot be sent to Morehead. Payment policies vary by vendor.

Chick-fil-a​
All meals include an entree, bag of chips, cookie, and a drink.
201 Estes Dr. Spc 51,
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Manager: Sammy Culberson
Email: cfachapelhillcatering@gmail.com (preferred)
Phone: 919.968.0126

Morehead is unable to guarantee delivery times or estimates for orders placed directly with vendors. However, we will have staff available to help receive, distribute, and store any catered lunches you order for your field trip.

FAQ's for Field Trips

How far in advance should I request a reservation?

Please request a reservation as far in advance as possible. We start accepting School Year reservations in the May of the previous school year, and we start accepting Summer reservations in February.

At minimum, please request reservations at least a week in advance. We do not accommodate reservations made less than a week ahead of time.

What is the minimum attendance required to book a reservation?

A minimum of 10 guests is required to receive group pricing and book tickets more than 2 weeks in advance. 

Groups of 10-49 guests can be booked into any preexisting planetarium shows already on our schedule. If you'd also like to see a Science Stage or Discovery Class and it isn't on our schedule, we can add one if the venue(s) are available.

For groups of 50+ where your planetarium show of choice isn't already on our schedule, we can add one if the theater is available to add another show that day.

Is there a minimum chaperone requirement for field trips?

No, but we strongly recommend at least 1 adult per child/student in your group. You are welcome to have more adults as well - just make sure they are accounted for on your reservation. 

How long is each show?

All planetarium shows, science stage programs, and discovery classes last about 45 minutes, but are booked for an hour block starting at the bottom half of the hour. Our earliest time slots for programs is 9:30 AM, then 10:30 AM, etc. Our last time slot for group programs on weekdays is 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM.

How do I request and confirm my reservation?

To request a reservation, complete a request form on the Field Trips page. We'll usually be able to get back to you within 2-3 days to either work out scheduling details, or send you information about a tentative reservation we've booked based on your request. There will be information in that email on how to confirm your reservation.

Is a deposit required to book a reservation?

At this time, a deposit is not required to book or confirm regular or private on-site reservations to the Planetarium. 

Can you accommodate students with special needs?

Morehead welcomes requests from guests with special needs and/or requests for accommodations. If anyone in your group has any special needs or accessibility/wheelchair needs, environmental concerns for those with mental or developmental impairments, etc., please let us know and we can discuss how we can best accommodate your group.

Do you have any shows in Spanish?

Solar System Odyssey, Astronaut, Black Holes, Dynamic Earth, and Grossology are available in Spanish by advance request. For group field trips, Morehead can present the show entirely in Spanish. Morehead can also present the show in English and provide an assistive listening device for up to 9 guests who need to hear a Spanish translation of the show.

When do I have to provide our minimum/final attendance?

Minimum attendance for all group reservations are due by 4:30PM three business days before your visit date. You can always add more guests after this date if space allows, but the number of guests on your reservation won't be able to drop below this minimum attendance after that date. If you don't provide an updated attendance by that date, the attendance on your reservation at that time will automatically become your minimum attendance. 

If a student is sick, or otherwise doesn't attend on the day of the visit, do we still have to pay for their ticket(s)?

Yes. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the school is responsible for all tickets on the reservation at the time that minimum attendance is due. Morehead Planetarium does not offer refunds or alter reservations due to unused minimum tickets or overpayments due to absent guests.

When is the deadline to cancel a reservation?

The deadline to cancel most types of on-site reservations to the Planetarium is by 4:30 PM three business days prior to your visit (i.e. if your visit is on Friday, the deadline is 4:30 PM that Tuesday before).

The deadline for private shows is usually 1 week in advance.

If the type of reservation you’re booked to has a different timeline for cancellation, it will be noted in your confirmation email and on your invoice.

When is payment due for reservations to visit Morehead?

Payment is due for most types of on-site field trips and visits on the day of the visit. If you are booked to a private show occurring after hours, your payment is due by 4:30 PM that day (if your visit date is a weekday) or the preceding business day (if your visit is on a weekend).

If your visit type requires different payment due dates, it will be noted on your confirmation emails and on your invoice.

If our organization is tax exempt, how can we remove taxes from our reservation?

If your school or organization is exempt from paying sales & use  tax in the state of North Carolina, please provide us with your NC Dept. of Revenue issued Tax Exemption Certificate Number (6 digits, no dashes or spaces) for verification. If your tax exempt number is valid, sales tax can be removed from your order. Please note that tax exemption must be requested prior to paying for your visit. Tax exemptions are verified using the online search available at: https://eservices.dor.nc.gov/exemption/.

Can memberships be applied to tickets on a reservation?

No. Membership benefits do not apply to tickets that are part of a group reservation.

Can parent chaperones or other guests pay separately?

No. Please plan to pay for all guests on your reservation in one lump sum payment. If your school or school district has a policy in place that prevents the school from paying for required parent chaperone’s tickets, please contact us to see how we can best accommodate your needs.

Can I invite parents to come along and pay separately, even if they aren't on my reservation?

We strongly advise against schools inviting guests along who are not listed on your reservation. Guests not listed on your reservation may purchase tickets to planetarium shows starting 2 weeks in advance through our online calendar, or on the day of the visit in our Gift Shop, however please note the following:

  • If capacity for a show is exceptionally low, tickets may not be available in advance/online.
  • Shows may be sold out by the time the 2-week window for online tickets opens.
  • General public guests, such as parents paying separately, cannot purchase tickets to or otherwise attend Science Stage programs, or Discovery Classes, only planetarium shows.
  • We cannot guarantee that parents paying separately will be able to sit with the group, as the group may be seated before the parent has paid for their ticket in the Gift Shop.
If we will have additional parents on our reservation, but I don't know how many will be interested yet, what should I do?

Generally, the best strategy for this is to add a small number (about 10 or so) extra adult tickets onto your reservation (not including teachers and required chaperones), and have parents sign up for and pay your school for those tickets. If you get more interest than that, just add more tickets to your reservation, and have parents sign up for the extra seats etc. Then give us a call/email us no later than the deadline to provide your minimum attendance, and remove the extra adult tickets you didn't have anyone sign up for. 

If you have parents sign up for and pay for tickets without adding them to your reservation first, you may end up having to refund or deny parents the opportunity to attend, if there aren't any more tickets available in your programs when you call to add those parents to your reservation!

How do we get to the Planetarium?

Take I-40 to Exit 270. Take Highway 15-501 South (toward Chapel Hill) 1.5 miles. Fork right onto Franklin Street. Go 2.6 miles. Morehead is on the left. Alternatively, use this Google Maps Link for customized directions.

How early should we arrive?

We recommend groups plan to arrive at Morehead 15-20 minutes before the start of their first program. Be sure to account for traffic!

We are running late, what should we do?

If you are running late, please contact us at 919.962.1236 as soon as possible so that we can discuss options for adjusting your schedule if needed. We are generally unable to hold shows for late groups and our ability to seat your group after the show has started is severely limited. We will make every effort to get you to your programs as scheduled, or offer alterative programming if space is available.

Where can the bus park?

UNC-Chapel Hill owns and operates the parking lot in front of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and does not allow bus parking in the lot. Buses are allowed to drop off students in the designated bus lane in the lot and then park at University Mall (Google Maps Location Here) at the end of the parking lot by Silverspot Cinema. Morehead’s Guest Relations team can shuttle bus drivers between parking and Morehead by request until 1:00 p.m. during the regular school year (late Aug – early Jun) and any time during the summer (early Jun – late Aug).

Where can we eat lunch?

The planetarium does have picnic tables behind the building that are first-come first-serve during the school year (unavailable during the summer), and there are plenty of open grassy areas nearby for picnic style lunches. 

Unfortunately, we do not have space in the building to offer any interior seating for lunch breaks, including during severe weather. If weather is poor, the best solution for most schools is to stop and eat on the bus during the return trip to school. If that is not an option for your school, please contact us to discuss your plans for lunch and see how we can best accommodate your group.

Can our lunches be stored during our programs?

Yes. We have carts we use to store each school’s lunches, and these carts are placed under the awning outside and kept out of the weather. Morehead staff will assist schools in collecting, storing, and bringing your lunches out for your group.

Our group would like to eat lunch nearby. Can you recommend a restaurant?

Check out http://www.downtownchapelhill.com/dining for a listing of restaurants in Chapel Hill. Check addresses to see which are within walking distance for your group. 

Are there any special policies at Morehead Planetarium we should be aware of?

No food, drink or chewing gum inside the building. No cameras, videos, cell phone or other electronic devices that can be disruptive during programs. Large groups should generally split into groups of 30 or fewer to visit the gift shop. No smoking within 100 ft of any university building, including the Planetarium. The UNC Department of Public Safety may issue citations for smoking violations.

My reservation includes a scholarship and I have questions about how the scholarship works.

Please contact our Reservations Manager at 919.843.3522 or by email at rwatt@email.unc.edu