James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Saint Louis

James S. McDonnell Planetarium – an architectural and educational icon in Saint Louis

September 2017

Crisper Stars for the Saint Louis Science Center

UNIVERSARIUM Mark IX upgraded with LED illumination

A new sky of stars of unsurpassed crispness awaits guests and participants of the Pleiades Conference to be held at the Saint Louis Science Center in Missouri, U.S.A., at the beginning of October.  With its 24-meter diameter dome, the facility is one of the largest planetariums in the U.S. Since 2001, it has used a ZEISS UNIVERSARIUM Mark IX projection machine to present the nightly firmament. Greatly assisted  by the planetarium staff, ZEISS installed an LED upgrade to the projector lighting systems this September. From now on, the artificial stars shine twice as brightly and in a more realistic white hue than ever. Sun, Moon and the planets have also gained in brilliance to match the new stars. Among the star theaters in the U.S. having a UNIVERSARIUM projector, the Saint Louis planetarium is the first to offer its visitors this most impressive artificial night sky.

UNIVERSARIUM Mark IX winter star field before the upgrade.

UNIVERSARIUM Mark IX winter star field before the upgrade.

The planetarium team summed up the effect of the upgrade in one sentence: “The results are awe-inspiring.” Two photos taken of the projected sky document the gain in brightness. The photo on top, taken on July 3rd, 2017, shows part of the winter sky. The picture below shows nearly the same area, taken on September 23rd, 2017, i.e. after the upgrade. Both photos were shot with the same camera and identical exposure parameters. 

UNIVERSARIUM Mark IX winter star field illuminated with the new LED light sources.

UNIVERSARIUM Mark IX winter star field illuminated with the new LED light sources.