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Solar System

Explore your place within space and time.

See images from the Hubble Space Telescope, interact at two hands-on stations, learn about some of history’s most famous astronomers, take in the giant model of our solar system overhead, and view the planetarium’s former and historic Zeiss star projector.

You can also now see our recent addition to the Solar System Gallery –- a 65-million-year-old, 1,500-pound Triceratops skull. This colossal fossil was discovered in 2011 on a private ranch in the Hell Creek Formation located in Garfield County, Montana, an area well known for its fossil findings.

Measuring 86 inches long, this massive skull exhibits the three horns and bony head frill that characterize the dinosaur species known as Triceratops, or “three-horned face. The species was named in 1888 by American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. 

The Triceratops was in existence 68 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period and went extinct about 65 million years ago during the most famous mass extinction in Earth’s history.  Evidence of the species has been found only in North America.  By the time the Triceratops evolved, the continent had already split off from Europe, and, along with South America, had begun to drift across the ocean.  A number of Triceratops fossils have been found in the western United States, most famously in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, where this skull was discovered on a private ranch.

The Triceratops grew to be upwards of 30 feet long by about 10 feet tall; the closest living animal in size today, although still smaller, is the African elephant.   On average, this dinosaur weighed between 4 and 6 tons, or 8-12,000 pounds.  It was impossible for this massive animal to move fast due to its large head, which measured one-third the length of the entire body; its broad, bony head plate; and its stout limbs, which were shorter in front.  An herbivore, the Triceratops’  beak-like mouth containing up to 800 teeth and its powerful jaws enabled it to feed on cycads, ferns, and other low-lying vegetation as well as taller plants that it tipped over using its horns and bulk.