ZEISS VELVET LED for Springfield Science Museum

The oldest starball in the USA gets a modern companion from ZEISS

9 May 2023 · 3 min read
  • Korkosz-Starball and ZEISS VELVET LED projectors in Springfield

    The Korkosz Starball has been in use since the Seymour Planetarium opened in 1937. This makes it the oldest star projector still in use in the USA. Two ZEISS VELVET LED projectors are installed in the Seymour Planetarium as well. Foto: Seiler Instrument, ZEISS

Springfield, USA | 9 May 2023

Since the opening of the Seymour Planetarium at the Springfield Science Museum 86 years ago, the same starball has always been used to simulate the starry sky. The projector, which was specially constructed by the Korkosz brothers for the Seymour Planetarium, is now considered the oldest working planetarium projector in the USA.

Now the planetarium has been upgraded for the 21st century and will be able to present digital fulldome content to audiences thanks to the new VELVET LED projectors from ZEISS. However, the Korkosz Starball will continue to fill the dome with stars and constellations as it has since 1937.

The fact that Korkosz and Zeiss projectors will operate under the same dome is a successful marriage of old and new. The installation of the new Zeiss full-dome projection system represents the final phase of a major upgrade initiated several years ago by former Science Museum Director Mike Kerr. That project has now been successfully completed under the direction of current museum director Jenny Powers.

"Springfield's historic Korkosz Starball is the most famous optomechanical planetarium projector in the United States," says Howard George, projection systems engineer at Seiler Instrument & Manufacturing Co. in St. Louis. George installed the new Zeiss projection system with Zeiss planetarium technicians from Jena, Germany.

The first public demonstrations of the new projection system from ZEISS were presented to the public during the Astronomy Day celebration at the Museum of Science on April 29.