(Schwarzenegger voice) ZEISS...to meet you!
January 25, 2022 2:09 PM   Subscribe

It's been nearly a decade since we last saw it, so why not take another starlit stroll through the Planetarium and Projector Science Museum.
posted by cortex (20 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Holy crap...this isn't just a virtual museum...it actually exists in real life! Adding this to my museum bucket list.
posted by foonly at 2:34 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Looking through the projectors, a bunch of them came out of high schools. I cannot imagine how unbelievably cool it would have been to have a planetarium in my high school.
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:49 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


We would have got it without the "Schwarzenegger voice".
posted by Alex404 at 3:06 PM on January 25


I cannot imagine how unbelievably cool it would have been to have a planetarium in my high school.

My high school had one. I still remember the name of the director, Mr. Jameson. I didn't take astronomy but every few years, beginning in elementary school, we'd take a field trip to go visit it. The first time we went I didn't know what a planetarium was and when I walked down the hall and sat in the round room, it blew my little mind. The room was lit by black lights so all our white clothing and our sneakers glowed in the light. When you sat down in the chairs the dome ceiling made your voices carry so you could hear every whisper from across the room like it was right next to you.

Then the lights would go down and Mr. Jameson, your tour guide through the cosmos (sorry), would begin the show. I remember being fascinated with the projector. I'd never seen anything like it before and it just seemed like the most complicated thing I'd ever seen... like something magical. I wish I knew what make/model it was as I bet one of the ones on that page is the exact model. The high school has since been rebuilt (without a planetarium) so it's quite possible the one from my very school is in this museum.

The only other planetariums I've been to are the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science in Boston and the one at the Natural History Museum in New York City, which I guess is also named after Hayden. Popular guy, that Hayden.

We would have got it without the "Schwarzenegger voice"

I feel like it technically should have been a Wolfcastle voice.
posted by bondcliff at 3:13 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Ok with some quick googling I learn that we had a Spitz A3P and though our high school no longer has a planetarium, one of our newly-rebuilt middle schools does have one.

Here's my high school planetarium in the World Planetarium Database!
posted by bondcliff at 3:21 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


how unbelievably cool it would have been to have a planetarium in my high school.

It indeed was cool When we did field trips to there when I was in middle school it was all so.....magical. Alas there was never enough time to really dig into things.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:47 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Here's my high school planetarium in the World Planetarium Database

odd my HS's isn't listed, but the next school's over is.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:51 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Speaking as a Planetarium-phile... I am into this!
posted by Liquidwolf at 4:43 PM on January 25


I lived in Colorado Springs when light pollution was very low and I was really excited by astronomy, but I was so myopic (and my correction was always so much lower than I actually needed, which I was shocked and resentful to find out later was a deliberate strategy by ophthalmologists and optometrists to retard progression) that I was never able to see the Milky Way until I moved to Boulder for college and got contacts, except for once in seventh grade at a planetarium — which was great, but had the effect of confirming what a different world most of the other kids lived in.
posted by jamjam at 4:50 PM on January 25


Here's my high school planetarium in the World Planetarium Database

I'm a little disappointed the inflatable dome my town had when I was in elementary school isn't listed. Once or twice a year it would get set up in the gym and we had to crawl through a tunnel to get into it.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:32 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


The high school has since been rebuilt (without a planetarium)

...and some cities have shuttered their old planetariums. Throw in light pollution, and I get the feeling that astronomical education and a general appreciation of the stars above has sadly waned from its golden age in the 20th century.
posted by fairmettle at 6:36 PM on January 25


a deliberate strategy by ophthalmologists and optometrists to retard progression

Wait, what? That's quackery, right?
posted by hippybear at 8:42 PM on January 25


So, I grew up next door to an astronomer. He worked at New Mexico State University, and I got to look through a great many telescopes of various sorts. Clyde Tombaugh (discoverer of Pluto) is from my hometown, and there were regular gatherings at his house, star parties, a dozen or more telescopes out on a good night aimed at different things.

The closest planetarium to me was in Alamogordo, NM, which also used a special projector to do IMAX format films on the domed ceiling, so I went there a lot to see films and planetarium shows.

I haven't been to one in ages, but there's one in a school around here (high school, but maybe a college?) that did public events in the Before Times. I have always found the projectors amazing.
posted by hippybear at 8:45 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I brought my parents to Yosemite for their first visit in ~30 years a few years ago and we happened to visit Glacier Point at night to take in the stars. It was pure luck, I believe, that we were there on a Saturday night when amateur astronomers gather *with their assorted massive telescopes* to give free viewing and tours to all comers. My mom recounts it as one of the highlights of her life, seeing things she knew all about as an educator but had never seen with her own eyes.

Planetarium shows as a kid were so wonderful, and the projectors were always one of the most fascinating parts (as hippybear said). I can hardly imagine how they work, but they look as complicated as the worlds they project. Imagine the process of designing and refining something like that.
posted by pkingdesign at 9:46 PM on January 25


Wow, this brought back a weird memory. My dad is retired now, but back in the day he worked for a school district as facilities manager. He mentioned in passing one day that they were upgrading the planetarium from a mechanical model to digital and that he felt bad to just throw the old one out but had no idea what to do with it. Me, being the highly online person that I am told him he could probably find a community online that would buy it, or he could at least donate it to someone who wanted it.

Anyway, I don't remember the details exactly, but I posted the info on a message board that looked very similar to this museum site asking interested parties to contact my dad, and he managed to give (sell?) it to someone through that posting. I tried searching my old emails but can't find anything about it. I'll ask him next time we talk and maybe he will remember better than me.

Super cool post.
posted by Literaryhero at 10:16 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Smitten.

My hometown science museum has a planetarium: the lower-tech shows of my childhood were nigh-on perfect, with minimal movement/color/sound but still engaging - both soothing and revivifying. I’ve only seen one ~newish planetarium show, at the AMNH, and it felt like too much. Hometown Planetarium kept their old projector, and they still bring it out for regular shows! Get that vintage-appeal money, Hometown Planetarium!
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 11:35 PM on January 25


I remember one gymnasium-planetarium visit where the presenter began the show by turning up the light on the projector to reveal a spectacular cosmic panorama only to then dim it to approximate what we see in town.

I know he was just being realistic and making a point about light pollution, but man what an jerk thing to do to elementary school kids.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:08 AM on January 26


Wait, what? That's quackery, right?

I think that's malpractice, rather than quackery
posted by Dr. Twist at 9:04 AM on January 26


the presenter began the show by turning up the light on the projector to reveal a spectacular cosmic panorama only to then dim it to approximate what we see in town

I worked at a state museum planetarium in high school, first as an intern cutting slides together for the shows (it was a while ago), and then as a lecturer after they realized I was in fact that kind of nerd. This was a standard intro for the school groups. Looking back, I guess it was a kind of jerky thing to do. Hah. They probably just have to turn the emergency lights on to get the same effect today.

The machine was pretty awesome- I haven't been back there in more than two decades and I'm sure the staff has all moved on, but it was one of those old Zeiss beasts that's probably long gone too. You ran it with a whole airplane panel of honest to god rheostats, and it would (of course) actually have to move to move the stars around. There was a "lower projector" function that I was told never to use, because they weren't sure at the time it would ever come back up, so we sadly never got the big reveal of the projector rising from the floor.

To this day if I'm outside at night with my mother she'll still say "threeee THOW-sa-ND staaaaars" in the cadence the planetarium director would use. Based on that and some of the comments here, guess some of those planetarium experiences stick!

I've spent the last 20 years at NASA, and that intern gig still feels like one of the most hands-on nerd jobs I've had. Fun little trip down memory lane, thanks for the post.
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:27 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, my Internet security softtware, Bitdefender, flagged the site as being a threat and wouldn't let me open the link (unless I overrode their warning, which I am not inclined to do).
posted by eye of newt at 10:48 PM on January 26


« Older Kicking Kickstarter   |   Lighthouses of Europe Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments