Tucson woman asking for return of stolen planetarium used to teach Pima County kids

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:45 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - A Tucson woman is looking to get back what is hers after having her planetarium stolen. On Tuesday, she said the planetarium was stolen from her front porch in the Arroyo Chico neighborhood. That planetarium is used to teach kids all across Pima County about astronomy.

“I got everything prepped and out front and then it was gone,” Lauren Ard, owner of Portable Planetarium Presentations, said when she made the discovery.

Ard said she’s been traveling all around Pima County for the past ten years, teaching kids about the constellations through this inflatable dome.

“It has two big blower fans and a projector. I set up this big dome and kids crawl inside and the stars are projected up on the ceiling,” she explained.

But without the dome, this business isn’t doable as she works to figure out what events she can attend and which ones she must cancel. “I have a smaller planetarium, but it only fits 10 at a time. But I almost never use it because classroom sizes are 30.”

So for now, things will be on a case-by-case basis. “Luckily, my two events from Wednesday, Basis in Oro Valley and the Valencia Library, both of them were willing to work with me and do the smaller planetarium.”

But to get back up and running would cost a lot of money. She said to get the exact replacement for the one that was stolen would cost anywhere from $12,000-$15,000. But she just wants to be able to teach again, and is willing to go for a cheaper option.

“The replacement cost for a cheap one from China would cost about $3,000,” she said. “I love teaching. I love talking to kids about astronomy.”

But that’s not something she wants to do and hopes whoever took it will bring it back. “If somebody sees a giant pile of navy blue fabric lying in an alley. That’s my planetarium! Please let me know!” she said.

If you’d like to help, you can find the GoFundMe link here.

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