About Planetariums:

A planetarium is a hemispherical domed theater in which images of any sort can be projected on the inside of the dome. In particular it can show objects in the sky as they appear any time of night, any day of the year, from any place on Earth.

If you are lucky, your town or one near you has a planetarium that you can visit. To find and visit the nearest one to you, search a worldwide directory of planetariums such as:

Goto Mercury planetarium projector
at The Lawrence Hall of Science, circa 1978.

Image of a Goto Mercury planetarium projector

The very first planetarium projector was unveiled in Jena, Germany in October 1923 and was first opened to the public on May 7, 1925, when the Deutsches Museum opened in Munich, Germany. Centennial celebrations of the invention of the planetarium: 2023–2025. See also the January 2024 issue of the journal Communicating Astronomy with the Public.

A planisphere is a type of star map that is adjustable to show the sky any time of night and any night of the year. In that sense it’s sort of like a hand held planetarium. See Star Maps.

Audience Participation Planetarium Programs

Holt Planetarium at Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS), University of California Berkeley (UCB) was built in 1973 under the direction of Alan Friedman to develop planetarium shows with a novel audience participation style. In the summer of 1978 LHS held five National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded workshops—POP (Participatory Oriented Planetariums)—with 100 planetarium educators.

Planetarium projector with images of galaxies M81 and M82

The POP workshops resulted in a publication, Planetarium Educators Workshop Guide (IPS Special Report #10). In the summers of 1989-94, LHS recruited a total of 150 participants for six NSF funded Summer Institutes in Astronomy and Space Science Education for Elementary and Middle Schools. The project was POPS—Participatory Oriented Planetariums for Schools). 

The  participants/graduates of those institutes conducted in-service workshops in their school districts using an expanded Planetarium Educators Workshop Guide: a series of 12 volumes – Planetarium Activities for Student Success (PASS). Because the audience participation techniques work in both public shows and school shows, the name PASS was changed to Planetarium Activities for Successful Shows. PASS programs are not like pre-recorded products that are simply load-and-play. The PASS programs are more akin to classroom activities consisting of a written sample narrative as a guide for live presentation, media (still images and movies), materials and preparation (if needed). 

With the advent and widespread proliferation of digital planetariums at the beginning of this millennium, the LHS team found that the audience participation principle is as valuable as ever.

Planetarium Activities for Audience Participation

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INDEX

  1. Planetarium Educators Workshop Guide
  2. Activities for the School Planetarium
  3. Resources
  4. A Manual for Using Portable Planetariums
  5. Constellations Tonight
  6. Red Planet Mars
  7. Moons of the Solar System
  8. Colors From Space
  9. How Big Is The Universe?
  10. Who Discovered America?
  11. Native American Astronomy
  12. Stonehenge
  13. Northern Lights
  14. Our Very Own Star
  15. Strange Planets

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Volume 3: Resources for Teaching Astronomy and Space Science

… a collection of resources from the 1980s, pretty much hopelessly out of date.

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Volume 8: Colors From Space

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Volume 9: How Big Is The Universe?

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Volume 10: Who Discovered America?

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Volume 11: Native American Astronomy

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Volume 12: Stonehenge

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Volume 13: Northern Lights

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Volume 14: Our Very Own Star

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Volume 15: Strange Planets

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