Planetarium: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Posted on July 24th, 2013

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By: MiaSci

A state-of-the-art planetarium at the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is now under construction, but 47 years ago, in 1966, the Miami Science Museum was also constructing a planetarium - the original Space Transit Planetarium. These two planetarium facilities are similar in a way – we can refer to both as the leading facility of its kind in the world, in its time. In many other ways however, they cannot be more different. Here is the evolution of our planetarium story – yesterday, today, and tomorrow – by the numbers:


Yesterday (1966, at the Miami Science Museum)

  • Star Projector: Space Transit Planetarium (STP), opto-mechanical
  • 1 of only 12 built (11 installed in planetariums, 1 installed in a New York City nightclub)
  • 1st planetarium projector capable of showing the sky as seen from a point off of the Earth
  • 1st Planetarium with 3rd axis (“yaw”)
  • Used by 1960′s NASA astronauts to train for space flight
  • 2 – 75 Arc lamps were the light source of stars
  • STP has 12 miles of electrical wiring, over 40 motors, and over 6,000 electrical connections
  • STP projects 5,600 visible stars
  • Cost in 1966 dollars about $150,000
  • Planetarium systems included an analog computer, multiplexing system, analog annual motion (planet drive) system, and control console

Planetarium Construction2

The original 1966 planetarium dome under construction


Today (2013, at the Miami Science Museum)

  • 98% of the original planetarium projector is still in place
  • 2% has been upgraded over the years (star lamp power supplies, planet projector lamp housings, star fields, motion driver amps)
  • Other technology upgrades over the years have included 35mm slide projectors, computer-controlled show animation system, laser projection system, Blu-ray player, and hard disk audio playback system


planetarium 2013

The planetarium console in the Museum in 2013


Tomorrow (2015, at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science)

  • Approximately 250 stadium style seats
  • The dome screen will be titled 23.5% to match the tilt of the Earth
  • 16,000,000 million color laser projection system
  • State-of-the-art ultra high-resolution full dome video projection system, capable of showing what the night sky will look like from any point and time on the Earth
  • Zoom up any object in the night sky to fill 100% of the dome, or fly to and show the view from any point in the known universe
  • Show any object (celestial or terrestrial) on the dome: fish, atom, human organ, star
  • Surround sound system


planetarium 7.13

The planetarium under construction in July 2013 at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (to be completed in 2015)

planetarium new

Artist rendering of the new planetarium at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (opening in 2015)


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