By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 27, 2007 at 7:45 AM

Last week I mentioned visiting the Soref Planetarium at the Milwaukee Public Museum and I was struck by how empty it was. Certainly that’s due to the fact that the school groups that are the museum’s weekday bread and butter were absent for the summer.

Having grown up in a city with a world-renowned planetarium, I always took it for granted that everyone’s been to one … and more than once. The Soref, which opened in late 2006, is among the top 11 planetariums in size in the U.S. and is great fun. Here's why.

1) It’s in the IMAX theater, so it’s dramatic. The video presentation is expansive and engulfing and is probably as close as you’ll get to riding in the front seat of the space shuttle.

2) The two-part program started with a very knowledgeable museum narrator explaining what we could see above Milwaukee later that night. He showed us Venus and Saturn and let us know that we’d be able to spot the space shuttle and the space station -- which had just separated -- rocketing across the northern sky. After dark, we went out and saw all of it.

“If you spot a slow, steady star gliding across the night sky over the next week, it’s not an UFO. It’s just the Space Shuttle and Space Station orbiting the Earth,” says Bob Bonadurer, planetarium director.

3) Part two was a “canned” -- for lack of a better word -- film about the “Wonders of the Universe,” which was stunning, informative and interesting.

4) Because it’s a mix of pretty pictures and astronomic information, the planetarium shows (“Wonders of the Universe” is just one of the current options) are perfect for all ages. While the glowing orbs, twinkling stars and stellar colors will amaze the youngest viewers, there’s enough meat on the bones of the show to keep a parent engaged, too.

Fun fact: Did you know there are eight planetariums in the Milwaukee area? They are at the Public Museum, UWM, Brown Deer, Madison, Hamilton, Wauwatosa West and Oak Creek High Schools and at the Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.