History of Planetaria – 28th June 2007

Richard Westwood began his talk about History of Planetaria by mentioning briefly various mechanisms and devices used before the 20th Century to illustrate the heavens. He then went on to describe the various planetarium projectors which were produced during the 20th Century, starting with the first Zeiss projector. While Zeiss dominated the market for much of the century, other manufacturers (particularly Spitz, and later Minolta) also had an influence. A few one-off projectors were made too. Perhaps the most notable was the one made for the Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco, which had several star projection domes to better project stars of differing magnitudes. Another interesting development was the Norton Atmospherium, which attempted to show all manner of sky conditions. Digital planetaria are the most recent innovation, with the first being the Evans and Sutherland Digistar. One of the most modern is the new planetarium at Greenwich. It is controlled by a bank of computers and uses red, green and blue lasers to project its stars.

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