The COVID-19 global pandemic unprecedently disturbed the education system in the United States and lead to the closure of all planetariums that were providing immersive science communication. This situation motivates us to examine how accessible the planetarium facilities were before the pandemic. We investigate the most important socioeconomic and geographical factors that affect the planetarium accessibility using the U.S. Census Bureau data and the commute time to the nearest planetarium for each ZIP Code Tabulated Area. We show the magnitude of the effect of permanent closure of a fraction of planetariums. Our study can be informative for strategizing the pandemic response.
Submitted to the CAPjournal (IAU Communicating Astronomy with the Public journal).