Star-maker at work

©Anna Schroll

Did You Know…

…that Stars Are Made By Hand At ZEISS?


There really is the position of “star-maker” at the high-tech company. Despite the romantic connotations this title evokes, the profession is based on very sound training – as a precision optics engineer. But how and why are stars actually made?

A star-maker is employed in the Planetariums division. To clarify a common source of confusion: in a planetarium, visitors view an artificial night sky, whereas in an observatory, they can observe real celestial objects.

At the heart of a planetarium is a special projector that projects the starry sky onto the interior surface of a hemispherical dome. Walther Bauersfeld introduced the first projection planetarium made by ZEISS in 1923. Today, the world’s largest planetarium – with a dome 35 meters in diameter – is located in Nagoya, Japan.

Regardless of all the technology, however, there would be no modern projection planetarium if it were not for the craftsmanship of the star-maker. A ZEISS planetarium projector is an optomechanical device containing either 12 or 32 fixed-star projectors, depending on the model. Inside this device, there are round disks with holes designed to recreate a detailed and astronomically accurate replica of the night sky. Each hole is illuminated by a single glass fiber. Using a microscope, a total of 9,100 glass fibers are individually “threaded” through holes to create the planetarium projector’s 9,100 stars – the number of stars that the human eye can see under ideal viewing conditions. This work requires patience, perseverance, and a steady hand. After all, each one of these round disks with a diameter of just five centimeters has to hold up to 900 stars.

Once the threading process is complete, the hand-made fixed-star projectors are mounted and aligned inside the planetarium projector. Millions of planetarium visitors all over the world are amazed by the brilliant and natural-looking starry skies projected on the domes over their heads, yet they are unaware that they mainly have the craftsmanship of the star-maker at ZEISS in Jena to thank for the delightful experience!

 

27 November 2012

We use cookies on this site. Cookies are small text files that are stored on your computer by websites. Cookies are widely used and help to optimize the pages that you view. By using this site, you agree to their use. more