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Zeiss Universarium Mark IX

The Samuel Oschin Planetarium

Griffith Observatory's Samuel Oschin Planetarium features an array of state-of-the-art technologies to support world-class scientific educational programming for audiences of all ages. With its spectacular Zeiss star projector, laser digital projection system, state-of-the-art aluminum dome, comfy seats, sound system, and theatrical lighting, the 290-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium Theater is the finest planetarium in the world.

Unlike many other planetaria, Griffith Observatory continues a long tradition of presenting live planetarium programs with a lecturer who can connect with audiences and convey astronomical knowledge with enthusiasm and passion.

For a description of shows currently playing in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium including show times and ticket prices, please click here.

The Star Projector

Zeiss Universarium Mark IX

Imported from Germany, the new Zeiss Universarium Mark IX star projector uses fiber-optics technology to deliver the most accurate and awe-inspiring planetarium dome full of stars anywhere. The computerized system offers visitors a detailed view of the night sky filled with thousands of stars and can be oriented to show what the sky looked like at any moment in human history. Griffith Observatory's scientific team was able to negotiate a fundamental improvement to the standard star field and worked closely with Zeiss engineers to create an unprecedented night sky of remarkable accuracy. Zeiss is so proud of the outcome, they have incorporated these refinements into subsequent projectors.

Digistar 3 Laser Projection System

Space plane and the moon

The Samuel Oschin Planetarium is one of the first major facilities in the United States to use Evans & Sutherland's cutting-edge, all-dome digital laser projection system. Two laser projectors - invisibly mounted in the north and south cove areas - are a giant step forward from the existing CRT video projectors. The Digistar 3 laser projection system improves upon traditional video projection in four important ways:

  • Increased resolution and brightness for large-format projection
  • Intensified color contrast and saturation
  • Reduced distortion of images on the curved planetarium dome surface (with lasers, the depth of focus is practically unlimited)
  • Significantly reduced maintenance costs over time
Laser projectors transform the entire visual experience. For a dome as large as Griffith Observatory's (76-foot (23 meters) diameter), the capabilities of the lasers are the best way to bring engaging astronomical visuals to life.

This Digistar 3 laser projection system was made possible by a generous gift to FOTO from the L.K. Whittier Foundation.


Image of the Samuel Oschin Planetarium Dome

The Samuel Oschin Planetarium is one of the first to make use of the remarkable 'seamless' dome construction technology developed by Spitz, Inc., and demonstrated at the Soaring Over California attraction at Disney's California Adventure. Though the dome is constructed of separate aluminum panels, the seams between the panels are designed to disappear with proper lighting. Tiny perforations across the dome enable audio speakers, ventilation ducts, and other equipment to be located above and around the outside of the dome, leaving the interior uncluttered. Properly lit, the dome will seem infinite to the entering visitor, creating a uniquely immersive experience and a true-to-life re-creation of a remote, luminous, and pristine sky.

The Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation

Image of the Samuel Oschin Planetarium main doors

The naming of the Samuel Oschin Planetarium at Griffith Observatory is one of a long line of charitable gifts made by the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation. The Foundation strives to improve the future for many through its support of astronomy, medicine, education, the arts, animal causes, and a variety of community organizations. With interests ranging from telescopes to microscopes and everything in between, signature donations include the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory and the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Mrs. Oschin says her husband wished the Foundation would encourage others to share in the work of improving our world and bringing hope for the future through stimulating collaboration and building enthusiasm in a broad range of philanthropic projects. She notes that astronomy was her husband's second love, and so perhaps it was inevitable that their path led to Griffith Observatory.

Mr. Oschin passed away in July 2003 and left a legacy to continue his work through the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation. Contributions to the City of Los Angeles and elsewhere, and to astronomers everywhere, will allow people to keep reaching for the stars for generations to come.