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.