50th Anniversary

Planetarium 1988

A History of the Planetarium

The Launceston Planetarium is the southernmost planetarium in Australia, and Tasmania's only planetarium.

Since 30 January 1968, visitors from near and far have marveled at the universe and discovered the galaxy in Planetarium shows. 

Have a look back at the history of the Planetarium here:

Planetarium key dates   

1955 QVMAG begins proposals to have a planetarium.
1961, 13 April QVMAG Director Frank Ellis formally recommends to the Town Clerk that a Planetarium be installed at QVMAG.
1965, 19-20 October Zeiss ZKP1 projector displayed at the Sydney Trade Fair.  Mr Heinz Letsch, from Zeiss, was present. It was subsequently purchased (with an agreement possibly having been made at the trade fair itself)  by the Adult Education Department in Hobart, and assembled in November 1965 in the old State Library Building in Hobart for a short period.
1967, 4 July Adult Education Board in Hobart formally approves the projector and 6-metre temporary dome to be  'transferred' to QVMAG for two years.
1968, 30 January Opening Day of the Planetarium at QVMAG.  Planetarium uses linen transportable dome, 6m in diameter, with 32 seats. It was set up in the 'Watercolour Gallery', which is now Gallery 7 at Royal Park. Shows were run at 11:00 and 15:00.  Jonathan Swift was the Planetarium's first operator.  The Planetarium's ZKP1 projector was in operation until 29 February, 2008.
1968, 14 November QVMAG director Frank Ellis requests that the Director of Adult Education confirm that the present projector would remain available until Launceston was provided with another one. (Sometime in 1968, it was agreed that the projector be at QVMAG on an 'indefinite loan', but the exact date of that particular agreement is uncertain.)
1968-69 Building work on new Theatrette and Planetarium commenced; this was completed in 1969-70.
1970, February Tasmanian State Government provides funding for $4300 for a permanent dome.  It was made of fibreglass and  built by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, at Fishermen's Bend, Victoria.  It is still in use today.
1971, April Planetarium with original linen dome closed and Projector installed in new Planetarium room.
1978, May Gordon Saunders runs first shows ('after a period of lapse due to staff changes').
1983, 14 March Martin George (then President of the Astronomical Society of Tasmania) commences work as Curator of Physical Sciences, and therefore as astronomer at the Planetarium.
1983, 13 April Planetarium shows recommence.  Initially, shows are run on weekdays only.
1983 Planetarium named 'The Launceston Planetarium'.
1991, 16 January Planetarium conducts public observation of an annular solar eclipse, with the Moon leaving a ring of the Sun's disc still visible at mid-eclipse. This was the first central solar eclipse from Launceston since 30 July 1916, and there will not be another until 25 January 2354. (The most recent total solar eclipse for Launceston was on 7 October 1782, and the next total for Launceston will be on 11 October 2675.)
2008, 29 February Planetarium runs final show in the Royal Park building, to a full audience.
2008-2009 Planetarium, including its original fibreglass dome, is moved to its new site at Inveresk.
2009, 3 February Planetarium takes delivery of a Zeiss ZKP3 star projector, purchased from the Stardome Planetarium in Auckland, New Zealand.
2009, 12 October  Planetarium reopens at the new site at Inveresk, using fulldome video technology in addition to the Zeiss projector.   The first fulldome video show is entitled 'Dawn of the Space Age', which is still popular as at 2017.
2012 Southern Skies exhibition, featuring Tasmanian astronomy, opens in the gallery in front of the Planetarium.
2018, 30 January Planetarium celebrates the 50th anniversary of its 1968 opening.