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Laser

For classic rock aficionados, lasers paired with Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin is basically a fine wine paired with a great meal.

That's why laser shows at the Madison Metropolitan School District's planetarium, 201 S. Gammon Road, are back this week by popular demand to raise money for the planetarium.

Laser shows used to be an annual tradition at the planetarium before they were phased out around 2013, according to the planetarium's director, Geoffrey Holt. They were replaced by Valentine's Day stargazing fundraising shows, which were more profitable.

But people kept asking about laser shows.

"People kept requesting them and asking, 'When are you going to do laser shows again?'" he said.

For many, the appeal of a laser show is firmly rooted in nostalgia. The shows are a nod to an era in which laser animations were a staple of rock shows, and planetariums would pack in teenage audiences for late-night laser shows on the weekends.

But Holt says he thinks the shows can potentially attract other demographics. He knows plenty of young people also into classic rock.

From Tuesday through Saturday, there will be 19 different shows to attend, all of which will feature colorful laser animations rendered on the planetarium's dome, courtesy of the Florida laser show production company Audio Visual Imagineering, Inc. 

One performance will be synchronized to "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd. Another will be a mishmash (or, if you will, monster mishmash) of Halloween-appropriate tunes, from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" to Will Smith's title song from the 1997 film "Men in Black."

Two other shows will celebrate the best of two legacy artists: The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

Get the full schedule of events here.

Regardless of the show, each performance will last 45 minutes and cost $4 a pop. All revenue from the laser shows will go toward upgrading the planetarium's equipment, said Holt, specifically buying a digital projector.

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Erik Lorenzsonn is the Capital Times' tech and culture reporter. He joined the team in 2016, after having served as an online editor for Wisconsin Public Radio and having written for publications like The Progressive Magazine and The Poughkeepsie Journal.