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"The finest display any lobby can have.  People just head for it, go to it. "

Jim Vickery, former co-director, Johnson Planetarium, Lakewood, Colorado

Royal Ontario Museum McLaughlin Planetarium, 1984 - 1987

Santa Barbara





New Jersey



The first commercial Stellarium was installed in the Astrocentre of the Royal Ontario Museums McLaughlin planetarium in Toronto. Unfortunately the planetarium itself was closed only a few years later when the museum had to cut costs. An effort was made to preserve the Stellarium installation, but it was ultimately dismantled.
The brilliantly designed display space allowed a totally unobstructed view of the entire eight foot diameter sphere of 816 stars.  During the periodic automated star presentations the entry and exit drapes would close. The viewing area was in complete darkness except for dim exit signs. 

Studies were done to determine how freely people might move about in a very dark environment and it was found that we tend to stand firmly in one place until the lights are again turned on.  To give visitors a chance to see our stellar neighborhood from various directions the designers decided to move the neighborhood.  Toronto’s Stellarium rotated one time every three minutes.  Stars would slowly drift within a few centimeters of the viewers eyes presenting many fine examples of multiple star systems for close examination. Stellariums show each member of binary and multiple systems with exaggerated separations, so that they may be seen.  The appearance is like that of a binary star when seen through a small telescope.

Below: The Royal Ontario Museum Stellarium had to rotate with no vibration. The slightest flutter would have set the stars dancing in a sort of cosmos-quake of unimaginable proportions.  The light foam core fiberglass disk below was held rigid by very massive structural steel.

Right: The disk assembly and stars were carried on this rotator.  To reliably carry a few milliamps of low voltage current to the LED star markers inside of the map ultra low resistance medical specialty slip rings were used. The entire map was held from above by a massive 4 by 6 inch steel box beam assembly.