History of Carl Zeiss Planetariums

  • How it all started

    How it all started

    In 1913, Oskar von Miller, founder of the Deutsches Museum (German Museum) in Munich, had an idea for an apparatus that would depict the apparent motions of the sun, moon, and planets along with those of the stars. He soon asked the Carl Zeiss Company for suggestions concerning this kind of a planetarium, but World War I interrupted things. Walther Bauersfeld, after unveiling a new design for a projection planetarium in March 1919, began working with the employees under him to flesh out the details. The long-awaited moment finally arrived in August 1923 when the artificial sky lit up for the first time, far exceeding expectations. After completion, the apparatus – Model I – was permanently installed at the Deutsches Museum in Munich in 1925. Subsequent developments in planetarium technology ultimately led to Model IX and also resulted in smaller size models for teaching purposes. Yet no end was in sight for the innovations: with the advent of computers, Carl Zeiss equipped planetariums with computer-assisted control systems, built mid-sized planetariums, and developed fiber optics to depict the night skies more brilliantly than ever. The evolution of ZEISS planetariums, which can now be found all over the world, eventually led to the VELVET video projector – featuring the superior contrast for perfect fulldome projection.

  • 1913 – 1950

    1913

    Oskar von Miller orders two sky models from Carl Zeiss for the Deutsches Museum in Munich: a Copernican planetarium and a sky model that shows the heavens as they are seen from the earth.


    1923

    In early 1923, the 16 meter dome is completed on the roof of the Zeiss Works in Jena. It is based on the shell design, invented and patented by Walther Bauersfeld, which is still used today.


    1925

    Demonstration of the Model I projection planetarium to the supervisory board of the Deutsches Museum, Munich; The public inauguration took place on 7 May 1925.


    1926

    Opening of the first planetarium with a dumbbell-shaped projector (Model II) in Wuppertal, Germany.


  • 1951 – 1983

    1951

    Series production for universal large planetariums (ZGP) and small planetariums (ZKP) commences in Jena.


    1956

    Series production of the large planetariums (Model III, Model IV) in Oberkochen.


    1974

    Large planetariums with automatic control systems from Oberkochen (Model VI A).

  • 1984 – today

    1984

    Delivery of the COSMORAMA large planetarium with computer guidance from Jena to Canada.


    1989

    Opening of the Finnish Science Center in Vantaa, Finland, with the first Universarium, a planetarium projector with fiber projectors for tilted domes.


    1996

    Series production of the STARMASTER mid-sized planetarium featuring fiber optics.


    2008

    The projection of pitch-black color is what makes the VELVET video projector unique for planetarium applications. All standard projectors project a gray background and therefore do not achieve the brilliance and contrast of the VELVET video projector.