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What Planetarium produced the best star field?

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#1 SpitzA3P

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Posted 13 May 2023 - 01:30 PM

Most all planetariums which used pin holes and multiple lenses to produce starfields have been dismantled.

 

This is a shame, because the current projectors have such poor starfields with most stars being fuzzy blobs. The only really good starfields, to my knowledge, made today are state of the art Screens with embedded LED's.

 

Even the Spitz A3P had a decent star field, except for the brightest stars.  But the Zeiss Model Six was superb ! with lovely field and many extras built in including zooming planets.  It had the best field I ever saw and I have visited about 20 planetariums in my short HA! life.

 

Someone I met once, said that the one of a kind Boston Museum of Science planetarium, "Homemade" by some phenomenal person who lived in the area, had an even better star field.

 

Does anyone else recall some of these projectors with ennui?



#2 GrassLakeRon

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Posted 13 May 2023 - 02:54 PM

My planetarium used a Spitz a1, serial number 0006. It had a great star field. We ran it from April of 1956 till 2002 when we upgraded to a digistar 3. Currently the planetarium is running a digistar 6 with a projection design f35 projector. The Zeiss in DC, from what I remember, has a great star field.
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#3 David A Rodger

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Posted 14 May 2023 - 08:30 PM

I was Founding Director of the HR MacMillan Planetarium in Vancouver, BC from 1967 to 1980. We were fortunate to have sufficient funds to acquire a Zeiss Jena projector and, yes, its star field was extraordinary.

 

Reference has been made to the "homemade" projector installed in the Boston Planetarium. It was indeed made to order and fabricated by the Korkhoz (sp.) brothers in Worcester, Mass. I saw that star field during a visit to Boston in 1966. It was a brilliant star field. It's been retired, I understand, and replaced by a Zeiss projector. That's a shame.

 

Alas, my one-time Vancouver Planetarium has retired its Zeiss projector and replaced it with digital projectors. So now they're a movie theater.

 

This year, Zeiss is marking the 100th anniversary of their planetarium projector. I wrote an article on the history of the Zeiss projector for the November/December issue of SkyNews, the bi-monthly magazine of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Look for "Whither the Wonder of Jena." These times are not being kind to planetariums or magazines. The RASC shut down Sky/News a few weeks ago. This was just a few weeks following SkyNews founder Terrence Dickinson's untimely death.


Edited by David A Rodger, 14 May 2023 - 08:33 PM.

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#4 SpitzA3P

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 04:28 PM

Dear David,

 

Thanks for the information about the Korkhoz brothers.  I seem to recall reading about them in a book but I can not find it in my library.  It was a book about planetarium projectors manufactured up until about 1970 or 80.  Have you seen such a book?  I can not seem to locate anything on Alibris or Amazon.



#5 David A Rodger

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 08:01 PM

There were several books on planetariums published many years ago. And all are out of print. The most comprehensive is Geared to the Stars by Henry C. King and published by the University of Toronto. That's where you'll find reference to the Korkhoz brothers. The remaining three were all published by Zeiss to promote their projectors. These came out when there were two Zeiss companies, one in Jena in the German Democratic Republic, and the other in Oberkochen, West Germany.(You can attribute the split to the division of Germany after World War II)

 

Some time after the Berlin wall fell, the two Zeiss companies merged. The East German book is called Captured Stars while the first West German Zeiss book was "From the Aratus Globe to the Zeiss Planetarium." The second book published by Zeiss is Window on the Universe by a dear friend of mine the late Charles Hagar of San Francisco State University.

 

Good luck tracking these books down. But, they're out there somewhere.

 

DAR


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#6 SpitzA3P

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Posted 20 May 2023 - 12:43 PM

David,

 

Thanks so much !  I will look up the books for purchase or inter-libarary loan.

 

J



#7 WillR

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 10:05 AM

I'm so happy I found this topic, because it rekindled some long ago memories.

 

We lived outside Boston when I was between ages 7 and 12 (late 1950s-early 1960s), and those were some of my happiest childhood memories. My Dad made a 6" F10 Newtonian, GEM and all. He also took to me to the Hayden Planetarium (or I went with my class), where I now realize, thanks to this topic, I saw the stars projected by the Korkosz projector. 

 

The entire experience was magical. They had a painted skyline of the city around the walls with a realistic sky glow behind it. After you got settled, they created a (sped up) transition from twilight to a dark sky, sparkling with stars, needless to say far more than you could see from Boston. I was enchanted and this kindled a lifelong love of astronomy and the constellations. I was also taken with the 3D models and the projector itself, which was huge and incredibly complex to a child.

 

Unfortunately that telescope lingered in storage for decades and I contented myself with pointing out the naked eye constellations to friends until I gradually forgot many of them and they gradually became harder to see. Trips to planetariums in later years were always disappointing, because they simply projected photos and videos and rarely projected the stars.

 

But, happy ending! We bought a small telescope in 2020 and my interest was reignited 6 decades later. Last year I found and restored the telescope my Dad made, and I now know all the constellations, even the faint ones. Practically every clear night I am out under the stars.

 

Here's a brief history of the Hayden Planetarium in Boston.  https://www.mos.org/...arium60/history

 

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#8 WillR

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 10:14 AM

Reference has been made to the "homemade" projector installed in the Boston Planetarium. It was indeed made to order and fabricated by the Korkhoz (sp.) brothers in Worcester, Mass. I saw that star field during a visit to Boston in 1966. It was a brilliant star field. It's been retired, I understand, and replaced by a Zeiss projector. That's a shame.

 

According the Hayden website it is spelled John and Frank Korkosz. Just for everyone's reference if searching.

 

I just uncovered this recent article. There is still one Korkosz projector operating in Springfield, Mass. Sounds like a road trip!

 

https://www.masslive...commentary.html


Edited by WillR, 22 May 2023 - 10:18 AM.


#9 SpitzA3P

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 09:22 PM

Thanks for the news of the Boston Hayden !

 

I have another question, besides the original query of What was the planetarium which produced the best star field.

 

It is What planetarium Currently produces the best star field?

 

Any takers?



#10 WillR

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 09:38 PM

Thanks for the news of the Boston Hayden !

 

I have another question, besides the original query of What was the planetarium which produced the best star field.

 

It is What planetarium Currently produces the best star field?

 

Any takers?

Possibly the Springfield, Mass one I linked above. They claim to have the oldest operating projector- the original Korkosz from he 1930s.


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#11 Cliff C

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Posted 27 May 2023 - 01:26 PM

I fine book describing the pre-computer projector planetariums is "The Planetarium and Atmospherium" by O. Richard Norton published in the 1960s. It covers the creation of the first modern projectors by Zeiss 100 years ago and covers Spitz and Korkosz projectors with photos and illustrations.Front Cover SM.jpg


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#12 SpitzA3P

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Posted 06 June 2023 - 11:22 AM

REgarding a planetariums which is currently under production (manufacture)  I just do not know.  I have recently seen ones in Montreal and Hawkings, Nebraska and the star fields were PITIFUL ! 

 

I am told by a very good source that there is a planetarium using many many LED lights imbedded in the dome. There are so many that the resolution of the human eye at the seated distance to the dome is larger than the distance between LEDs.  Will have to get back with you about the name of that gizmo.



#13 SpitzA3P

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Posted 06 June 2023 - 01:09 PM

I am so glad the Springfield Science Museum kept its 86 year old Korkosz planetarium projector !

 

Apparently, they are able to maintain it in house.

 

When I worked at the Gengras Planetarium in West Hartford, I never made it to the Springfield Museum.  I now regret not experiencing that planetarium, even if it is a small one.



#14 SpitzA3P

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Posted 07 June 2023 - 03:21 PM

The star field, as well as all other visuals, which are embedded into the dome is a product of COSM, which apparently owns Spitz Space Systems.  They use LEDs and claim very long durability of the LEDs.  However, I seem to recall that LEDs do not like to be turned on and off frequently. This shortens their lifetime.  COSM must have found a different LED because the dome must turn them off and on almost constantly during a show.

 

I think Zeiss uses fiber optics to direct light out of the "starball" and onto the dome.

 

The Adler Planetarium has a COSM system.  Anyone seen its starfield?



#15 SpitzA3P

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Posted 07 June 2023 - 08:43 PM

Zeiss and Goto manufacture Hybrid Planetariums, with Star balls for projecting the stars etc, and a different projector for movies etc.



#16 SpitzA3P

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Posted 07 June 2023 - 08:58 PM

To David A Rodger,

 

One can no longer subscribe to Sky News so I am unfortunately, unable to read the article you mention above , which you wrote about Zeiss and which appeared in the last Nov-Dec issue (2022), since Sky News terminated publication in May, as you note.  Thanks again for the list of books on planetariums.

 

Spitz A3P



#17 SpitzA3P

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Posted 08 June 2023 - 03:34 PM

I should not leave out Konica Minolta which also makes Star ball projectors, and LED Domes.

I have not seen any of these  21st century star ball projectors from Zeiss, Goto, or Minolta.  If you have, please comment on their starfields.



#18 SandyHouTex

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Posted 09 June 2023 - 11:32 AM

Sometimes the old way is still the best way.



#19 SpitzA3P

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 02:45 PM

I visited the planetarium in Vienna, Austria, in December.  They have a Zeiss Model 9 and although it is difficult to compare to the Model 6 at Morehead Planetarium (Chapel Hill, NC) where I worked as a summer intern in 1970, I believe that the Model 9 is superior.  Zeiss's website even says so !

 

That Vienna projector is not fully maintained, however.  The star  field was only on for about 5 minutes and then a digital projector was used for the other 40 minutes of the program on the night sky.  I inquired about that and was told that the Model 9 no longer moved in the ways they wanted for that show. (Or maybe it was never capable of doing what the program author wanted.)  It was a real shame, as the digital projections were , as always, horrendous.

 

It is troubling that in this time when so many of us live in very light polluted areas, we can not even see the heavens as they should be in so many planetariums.

 

The Berlin planetarium also has a Zeiss 9 but I did not have time to visit it on our Berlin to Vienna trip.



#20 David Knisely

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Posted 01 March 2024 - 01:16 AM

SpizA3P wrote:

 

 

I have recently seen ones in Montreal and Hawkings, Nebraska and the star fields were PITIFUL !

 

There is no "Hawkings, Nebraska".  The era of the big electro-mechanical star projectors appears to be fading away.  I was never terribly impressed with the starfield of the Spitz A4 that Mueller Planetarium in Lincoln, NE had, but it was somewhat adequate.  I was quite happy when they ditched the bulky central mechanical planetarium projector in favor of one of the new full-dome high-resolution low-profile digital sky projectors that produce nice sharp star images, as well as allowing full-dome graphics and shows without having to rely on older secondary projector systems.  When we held our last Hyde Observatory Volunteer recognition night at Morrill Hall, I got to see the digital projection system at Mueller Planetarium in action, and its star field was pretty good.  This trend towards full-dome projection seems to becoming more common now even beyond the large institutional planetaria, as the Justice Planetarium at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS and the J.M. McDonald Planetarium in Hastings, NE also went full-dome digital projection a number of years ago, although I haven't seen the one in Hastings yet.  Clear skies to you.


Edited by David Knisely, 01 March 2024 - 02:24 PM.


#21 Tony Flanders

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Posted 01 March 2024 - 05:51 AM

Does anyone else recall some of these projectors with ennui?


FYI, the word you're looking for is "nostalgia." The word "ennui" is almost the opposite of what you mean; the closest English equivalent is "boredom."



#22 jcj380

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Posted 16 March 2024 - 09:41 AM

I'd vote for the Zeiss at Adler in Chicago (worked there part-time when I was in college), but I'm not sure they even use / have it anymore.  I haven't been there for many years.



#23 Douglas Matulis

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Posted 20 March 2024 - 09:55 AM

I'd vote for the Zeiss at Adler in Chicago (worked there part-time when I was in college), but I'm not sure they even use / have it anymore.  I haven't been there for many years.

I vote for the Zeiss at Adler as well.  Went there many times, to many to count and it was amazing.  I hate what they have replaced it with, the Zeiss made the night sky look very real and always loved the beginning part of the show when they would simulate the sky away from city lights, the stars just twinkled.  I have been there in a while either after a few times with the new theater.  I always felt the shows were a little dumbed down and geared toward glitzy show presentation and the nostalgia is gone as well.  I guess the have to try and attract the iPhone/XBox generation now days.  I miss the old Zeiss and the old gift shop.


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#24 jcj380

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Posted 21 March 2024 - 08:29 AM

I miss the old Zeiss and the old gift shop.

The old gift shop is gone? shocked.gif

 

That's where I bought my one and only constellation tie.  grin.gif



#25 Douglas Matulis

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Posted 21 March 2024 - 10:38 AM

The old gift shop is gone? shocked.gif

 

That's where I bought my one and only constellation tie.  grin.gif

Well the last time I was at at the Planetarium gift shop, maybe 6 or 7 years ago, it was filled with stuff that looked like they raided the dollar store.  Dumbed down books and all sorts of glitzy toys and gadgets may of which have nothing to do with astronomy.

In my youth, the store was filled with stuff that an actual amateur astronomer or astronomy buff would be interested in.  Books like The Amateur Astronomer's Handbook, Peterson's field guide, Field Book of the Skies, and even some college level technical books.

There were toys back then, but they were things like gyroscopes, telescope kits, prisms, diffraction gratings, and the like.  They even had real telescopes like C5 and C8, Questar, not the plastic 50mm refractors on mounts with built-in vibrators that will scare anyone away from the hobby. lol.gif

 

But hey, maybe it has changed in the last 7 years.  Guess I'll have to visit again and see.




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