Projector based Picture Gallery



"Preserving our Planetarium Past for our Future
to the Benefit of All Planetariums Everywhere"

The only place to come and study the history, design, construction and evolution of Planetarium Projectors.
Where preservation, display, and education about our historic and rare Planetarium Projectors is our main mission.

We collect Planetarium Projectors for Display and Preservation.

Where we cherish the old technology, but also appreciate the new technologies.
The most valuable acquistion of the Planetarium Projector Museum is the enthusiasm it invites.

Introducing the Public to Planetarium Science and Engineering
Inspirational Today and Legendary Tomorrow
A Museum of Imagination and Inspiration

Owen Phairis: Owner, Director & Curator (909-806-5698)
Brent Sullivan: Director and Patron
Ron Walker: Director of Engineering and Historian
Steve T. Cole: Director of Scientific Displays and Exhibits
Gary Likert: Director and Advisor on Home Planetariums
Ken Miller: Director and Advisor on Planetarium Illumination
J.R. Phairis and Owen Phairis IV: Trustees and Directors of Logistics

The only place in the Universe to visit the Worlds' largest collection of Planetarium Projectors!

We would like to make the Planetarium Projector Collection Available as a Traveling Science Exhibit
for Planetariums and Museums across the Country!

UPDATE: We are currently seeking Museums to display the exhibit and sponsors to help us in the preparation
and also the transportation of the scientific planetarium instruments for exhibition.
(click for an open letter)

Click for Big Bear Lake, California Forecast

Solar System Planet Positions for September 15th 2010

Now Showing in our Museums' Planetarium:

CAPTAIN CORONA in the "Overcast of Doom"

Also showing and available:

UFOs and Flying Saucers

and / or
ASTROLOGY - and the Signs of the Zodiac


Captain Corona - Action Hero and the Guardian of Sunlight
Now appearing in the "Overcast of Doom"

This painting of 'Captain Corona' was done in the early 1970s by famous Science Fiction Author David Brin while he was a student at Cal-Tech.


Our Robot, Copernicus, introduces our shows and plays 'Captain Corona'


Venus Planetarium Projector currently used for our planetarium shows

Now Showing in our proud sister Planetarium located in Gallatin, Tennessee:

Under EGYPTIAN Skies - the Ghost of Khufu!

Steve Smith Star Cylinder in use at the Sumner Star Theater


* The Planetarium Projector Hall of Fame *

From the Golden Age of Planetarium Projectors

Starring An Astronomical Collection of Antique
Planetarium Projector Instruments from Theaters of the Stars!


Museums' Spitz STP Planetarium Projector

This magnificent projector is one of only 11 ever made by Spitz. This projector was purchased from The Gengras Planetarium at The Children's Museum in Connecticut and is affectionately known by the name of Stella. She completed nearly 40 years of continuous service and educated over 1,000,000 people before being replaced by an all new digital planetarium system. She is capable of generating over 4,000 stars and all the visible planets. This machine is currently at the Museum and is on display. Here is a list of the 11 STPs that were built and where they originally went to: Houston, Trenton, Salt Lake City, Abrams at Michigan State, Bradenton's Bishop Planetarium, Yonkers, Denver, Hartford, Warminster, and two are still in service giving planetarium shows at Montgomery and Miami.
Gallery of Spitz STP Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Stella our Spitz STP Projector being Restored

Some interesting facts about the STP projector. It was the first commercial projector to have a third (yaw) axis and the very first to be computer controlled. It projects over 4,000 stars to magnitude +5.8 and all stars greater than 3.5 are projected using 260 separate lenses. It uses two 75 watt arc lamps for light sources for projection on a 40 to 65 foot dome. There are 10 analogs versus 7 as in the popular A3P. There is a separate analog for the Earth which was needed because this was the very first projector that would allow you to place the audience on the moon or other location in outer space. There are also two analogs for the sun (mean and true) which makes demonstrating the equation of time not only possible but also easier to visualize.


Photograph of Stella and our Planetarium Collection

Some more interesting facts about the STP projector. Each instrument requires 43 motors, over 12 miles of electrical wiring and more than 6,000 electrical connections. Total package price installed was around $ 146,575.00 with a 40 foot dome way back in 1963. This projector also has zooming earth and zooming moon projectors installed so during a planetarium program they could take visitors on a space flight and safely return.



Museums' Spitz A-1 Planetarium Projector

This projector may have been used at the University of Michigian. This one is Serial Number #131 and Code # A1 300. It is one of about only 40 ever made before they started making the A2 and I beleve this one was built in 1953.
Gallery of Spitz A1 Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Closeup Spitz A-1 Planetarium Projector

Pictured accessories include the astronomical triangle used for teaching celestial navigation on the left. Also to the left is the geo-centric earth projector. In the back, barely visible, is the meridian projector and also the twilight projector. The co-ordinate projector is on the far right and the planet projectors between it and the dodecahedron star globe.


Museums' newest and second Spitz A1 Planetarium Projector

In our continuing effort to preserve our rich planetarium heritage, the Museum is proud to announce the purchase of a second Spitz A1 Planetarium Projector with all the acessories for the Collection. This one is an A-1 300A and is Serial Number 122 and was originally sold to and used at the Museum of History and Science at Waterloo, Iowa. The projector arrived safely here at the Museum on July 4th 2010 and came to us from the Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, Illinois. It is setup temporarily in the front office till a better location may be found for it.



Museums' Goto S-2 Planetarium Projector

Shown here is the Museums very first projector, purchased from a private party and built in 1959. This is a fully optical projector using 32 lenses to project the stars on a 24.6 foot dome. This projector projects about 2500 stars and all the visible planets and moon phases. According to Goto records it is one of only 3!
Gallery of Goto S-2 Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Closeup Photograph of the Museums' Goto S-2


Museums' Goto Mercury Planetarium Projector

This historic and rare projector came from Holt Planetarium located at the Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley. The projector was built in 1965 and displays around 1800 stars. Originally it was sold to UCLA for around eight thousand dollars. In 1973 it moved to UC Berkeley where it operated until February 29th 2008 where it entertained and educated over 500,000 people before being retired. According to Goto this projector is 1 of only 12 worldwide. After a 35 year absence it has now been returned to Southern California and moved to the museum for display and occasional use. This projector has now been offically adopted by the Home Planetarium Association as their favorite planetarium projector in our collection.
Gallery of Goto Mercury Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Another shot of the Goto Mercury Planetarium Projector


Goto Venus Planetarium Projector


Museums' Venus Planetarium Projector

This model Venus Planetarium Projector was manufactured from 1965 thru 1974 and projects optically about 3,200 stars and was the next step up from the Mercury projector. We believe there are only about 28 of them left. Sold mostly to high schools in the USA their original selling price was around $ 7,500.00 and they were built by Goto Optical but distributed here in the states by Viewlex.
Gallery of Goto Venus Planetarium Projector Pictures.


JR working on Goto Venus Planetarium Projector


Museums' Minolta Series II B Planetarium Projector

The Planetarium Projector Museum is indeed fortunate and very proud to receive the donation of a Viewlex Minolta Series II B planetarium projector. This projector is a generous donation to the Museum from the Robert J. Novins Planetarium located in Toms River New Jersey.
Gallery of Minolta Series IIB Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Museums' Minolta Projector & Console

This 1974 vintage planetarium projector originally cost $ 110,000.00 and is capable of optically generating over 4,000 stars on a 40 foot dome. The projector arrived at the Museum in late August 2008 and we just completed her restoration. Pictures of the restoration process on this marvelous projector have been posted on the Planetarium Picture Scrap Book pages of this website. This projector was rented to Universal Studios for a March 15th 2010 episode of the Fox Tv series "House."



Minolta Projector after Restoration at the Museum


Museums' Spitz 512 Star Projector

This projector was originally sold to and used at the Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences in Peoria, Illinois. It was run by Planetarium Director Sheldon Schafer between 1977 to 2007. This star projector, which was affectionately known as 'Mark Spitz' is one of the Museums' newest and most modern of the planetarium projectors in the Museums collection and came to us as a generous donation from a friend and patron.
Gallery of Spitz 512 Planetarium Projector Pictures.



Museums' Spitz A3P Planetarium Projector

This projector was originally sold to and used in the Tessman Planetarium at Santa Anna College, California. The A3P instrument was sold mostly to colleges and schools in the 1960s and 70s. This one has a Spitz serial number of 3275. The A3P is one of the most common of all the commercial planetarium projectors ever made. It projects about 1500 stars and uses both pinholes and also lens projection for the brighter stars and was designed for a 24 to 40 foot dome. We believe there were about 500 model A3P/A4 types produced by Spitz when it was mostly replaced by the model 512/1024 in 1973.
Gallery of Spitz A3P Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Museums' Spitz A3P and Nova Projectors


Haromic Reed Nova III


Museums' Nova III Planetarium Projector

This came to the Museum from a high school in Kentucky which was the main market for this type of projector. This projector was released in 1963 and originally sold for two thousand dollars. It was built by the Harmonic Reed Company and later by Spitz in 1972. We believe there were 200 made and it projects about 650 stars.
Gallery of Harmonic Reed Nova III Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Museums' Spitz 373 next to Nova III Planetarium Projector

Pictured is the Museums' Spitz 373 right next to a Harmonic Reed Nova III. When Spitz bought out Harmonic Reed in 1972 they made several needed improvements to the projector. This included a new and better all metal starball with lenses for the brighter stars to replace the plastic starball used by Harmonic Reed. They also replaced the weak filament lamp in the Nova with a brighter arc lamp used in their other Spitz projectors. They also made the base taller and added a geo-centric earth. We believe that Spitz sold 200 units of this model planetarium projector. This Spitz 373 planetarium projector was beleived to be owned at one time by the University of Iowa.
Gallery of Spitz 373 Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Apollo III (E-5) Planetarium Projector


Museums' Goto Apollo III (E-5) Planetarium Projector

This planetarium projector arrived at the Museum in late December 2008. This projector comes from Mr. Jon Elvert and is one of about 300 made and projects around 650 stars. This projector has a strong resemblence to the Harmonic Reed Nova III and was also introduced during the 1960s.
Gallery of Goto E-5 Planetarium Projector Pictures.




Museums' Emmons HPA Planetarium Projector

This one of a kind projector has been donated to the museum from the Home Planetarium Association and Mr. Gary Likert. The projector was built in 1995 and features the second to the last Emmons starball ever produced. This projector will provide inspiration and serves as an excellent example of what can be done in the home by talented individuals. This projector is continually undergoing reconstruction and we post new pictures frequently. When completed this machine will then proudly take its place along side the commercial planetarium projectors and take its place in history as well.
Gallery of HPA Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Museums' Emmons HPA Projector as it appears today 10/12/2008



Museums' Goto EX-3 Planetarium Projector

The Goto EX-3 was designed as a teaching tool for schools and has been manufactured since at least 1973. The EX-3 projects 500 stars and requires only a ten foot portable dome or a very large umbrella which made it ideal for the classroom.
Gallery of Goto EX3 Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Museums' Spitz-NASA Apollo Space Program Projector

This one of a kind projector was built by Spitz under contract from NASA for the Apollo Space Program. The projector was computer controlled to recreate space craft movements in space and to simulate a trip to the moon. The projector was sent to MIT which in turn made the navigation computer for the Apollo Project. After the Apollo Program ended it was sent to Boston University where it served as their planetarium projector for 20 years. The projector is capable of projecting close to 3,000 stars and has a 24 inch starball which may be the largest pinhole starball ever made. This also served as the prototype for the Spitz STS planetarium projector. Due to the historical significance of this planetarium projector the museum was indeed fortunate to be able to purchase it and would like to thank Steve Pielock for the background information and also his help in obtaining it.
Gallery of Spitz STS Planetarium Projector Pictures.


Dr. Mussers' Personal Copernican Planetarium Prototype

Again, In our continuing effort to preserve our rich planetarium heritage, the Museum is proud to announce that we have acquired Dr. Mussers' original Copernican Planetarium Prototype built in 1958 during the International Geophysical Year. The planetarium, which was invented and developed by Dr. Clair O. Musser of Scientific Space Industries, which was a subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft Company at the time, was ideal for classroom use. A lecturer could control the black light, read from the calendar clock, set the time register, attenuate the sun, planets and asteroids, control the planets individually, control orbital speeds, reverse orbital movements and produce eclipsing binary effects. The Planetary System is portrayed in color and includes each of the nine major planets, the moon, the region of the asteroids, and the sun. A separate light source produces each of the objects shown, generally by rear projection from inside the cabinet onto the surface of the translucent viewing screen. Each object is controlled by a separate electrical circuit with provision for dimming, so that a lecturer can show only those objects which were required for his demonstration. We believe less than 50 of these were made by Scientific Instruments of Los Angeles and distributed by Central Scientific Company (Cenco) of Chicago. They were sold mostly to Planetariums, Museums, and Institutions during the 1960s for around $ 6,000 and it stands seven feet tall when it is on its stand which holds its interchangeable disks. A smaller home version was also manufactured and sold to individuals reportedly at the 1962 Worlds Fair in Seattle Washington. The Museum is indeed fortunate to have acquired this historic instrument which is another piece of our fascinating planetarium heritage!
Gallery of Muser Planetarium Pictures.


"From the optical wizardries of industrial giants to your corner hardware store -
- from scientific legends to enthusiasts tinkering in garages and barns ..
.. these worlds meet, mingle, and all share one common purpose - the stars."
Gary Likert -
Home Planetarium Association


Museums' NASA Electron Microscope

Ever wonder what happened to the RCA electron microscope that was used by Dr. Delbert E. Philpott to check the Apollo moon rock samples for life? Well, it has arrived here at the Museum in late April 2009 along with space flown samples. More pictures and details will follow.

We are Considering a new Book Project?

A picture book of planetarium projectors and planetaria. Do you have pictures to contribute?
Please be sure and check out the pictures in the Planetarium Picture Scrap Book pages of this website.


Spring and Summer 2008 ads placed in: "The Great Western Observer"
There are also articles on pages 16 and 31 about the Museum.
Index of issues may be found here: "Great Western Observer Index"
Museums Fall ad and Winter 2008 ads for GWO are below:


Short 60 Second Video Clip

Demonstration of the movements of the Goto S-2 and Mercury Projectors.

The Growing Collection of Planetarium Projectors

A 3-D Stereo Photograph

Crossed eyed viewing - Look at left image with right eye and right image with left eye.
A third 3-D color stereo image will form in center.

A 3-D Stereo Photograph

This 3-D anaglyph image requires standard Red (left eye) / Blue (right eye) 3-D glasses.
More exciting 3-D projector images can be found here: 3-D Stereo Planetarium Projectors



  • Spitz A3P Planetarium Projector Operator Console
  • Goto M-1 Planetarium Projector Star Globes
  • Minolta Series II B Planetarium Projector Operator Console
  • Minolta Series II B Spare Starballs and Planet Cages for Closeup Display
  • Conic Copernican Helio-Centric Projection Orrery
  • Spitz A3P and 512 Copernican Helio-Centric Projection Orrerys
  • Goto Copernican Helio-Centric Projection Orrery
  • Viewlex Copernican Helio-Centric Projection Orrery
  • Planetarium Special Effects Projectors, Pointers, Hand Sextants
  • Collection of Planetarium Cedar Wood Art Boxes
  • 90mm f-10 Meade ETX Maksutov Telescope
  • 4 inch f-15 Solar Refractor Fork Mounted Telescope
  • 6 inch f-10 Vernon Refractor Telescope
  • 6 inch f-8 Celestron Refractor Telescope
  • 8 inch f-10 Meade SCT Telescope
  • 8 inch f-6 Meade Newtonian Telescope
  • 8 inch Cave Astrola Newtonian Telescope
  • Large Radio Telescope
  • Model Satellite
  • RCA Electron Microscope
  • Six Foot Model Nautilus Submarine
  • Seven Foot Model V-2 Rocket
  • 138 pound Museum Quality Meteorite
  • 1 Million Volt Tesla Coil

Member: Planetarium Network
Member: Pacific Planetarium Association
Member: The Home Planetarium Association
Member: Bear Valley Astronomical Association
Member: Rocky Mountain Planetarium Association

INTERESTED in Planetarium History?
Check out these links:

History of the Adler Planetarium

History of the Buhl Planetarium

Planetariums Club

Planetariums in the World (APLF)

Planetariums in the World Index (IPS)

INTERESTED in building your own Planetarium?
Check out these links:

Home Planetarium Association

Observatory Central: Planetariums as a Hobby

Please click on the picture scrapbook link below for the latest updates as well as many more interesting photographs. We believe that almost all photographs on this site are copyright free and may be copied and used freely to advance interest in Science, Engineering, Astronomy and Planetariums everywhere. Please check with us to verify before publication and for credit information. In many cases higher resolution images may be available.


Please call Owen at 909-806-5698 for more information or at: ophairis[at]

2009 and 2010 Great Western Observer Ads

Have a Planetarium Projector to Donate or Sell Us?

Please feel free to contact Owen Phairis at: ophairis[at]
Owen Phairis, P.O. Box 3400, Big Bear Lake, California 92315
(909) 806-5698

Photographic Portraits by Owen Phairis

Owens Lightning Show
Camera Collection
Microscope Collection
Historic Microphone Collection
Seattle Space Needle Collection
Laboratory Glassware Collection
Optical Laboratory
Sherlock Holmes Collection

Just for FUN - "The Adventures of CAPTAIN PLANETARIUM"

"...and all of this shall come to pass, in Gods' good time." - Captain Nemo