Planetarium on the roof

Did You Know…

…that the World’s First Planetarium Was Erected on the Roof of the ZEISS Factory?

The first artificial night sky was shown in Jena in the summer of 1923. 10 years earlier, Heidelberg astronomer Max Wolf had suggested the planetarium idea to Oskar von Miller, founder of the Deutsches Museum in Munich. He, in turn, approached Carl Zeiss Jena. After an interruption caused by World War I and a whole host of design issues, Walther Bauersfeld, Chief Engineer at ZEISS, developed Model I, which was tested in a specially built, 16-meter dome on the roof of the factory in Jena. Beginning in August 1924, presentations were also offered to the public. The very first projector was in service at the Deutsches Museum from 1925 to 1960, and it continues to be on display to this day.

The brilliance of the night sky produced by opto-mechanical projection is unsurpassed. New digital solutions add extra content to the traditional projection methods, facilitating innovative effects like superimposed full-dome movies, zooming in on planets, and portraying the motion of celestial bodies with visible trails. All of this facilitates the development of exciting shows. The latest ideas can be seen at the fourth Full-Dome Festival on 4 to 8 May at the ZEISS Planetarium in Jena. This year marks the first time that professional shows with impressive, full-length videos and animated features will be permitted. Filmed in the USA, Australia, India, and various European countries, they will be shown during the first three days of the event. The program schedule can be seen at

As in the past, there will also be the opportunity to enjoy short films by students with innovative ideas. The highlight of the event will take place on the last day, when the best works in the Student, Professional Clips, and Shows categories will be honored. By the end of the event, it should be clear to everyone how far modern planetarium projection has come since its humble beginnings.

4 May 2010