Located in historic downtown St. Louis, Missouri, the Science Center's James S. McDonnell Planetarium is one of Americaís leading space education facilities. It was opened in 1963, and was merged with the Museum of Science and Natural History, to become the St. Louis Science Center in Forest Park. As the name comments, the planetarium was established by James S. McDonnell, the famous American aeronautical engineer.
One among the three buildings of the St. Louis Science Center, the James S. McDonnell Planetarium is located in Forest Park on Clayton Avenue. Its mission is to stimulate interest in science and technology throughout the community.
The unique features of the planetarium include a Boeing space station with displays. The Orthwein StarBay in the station helps visitors engage in the process of understanding life and work on the International Space Station and how medical needs and the stationís internal and external environments are maintained.
The StarBayís most arresting feature is the central open area dominated by the Zeiss Planetarium Model IX, which projects more than 9,000 stars onto an 80-foot dome. Night-sky presentations occur twice each hour.
In addition to providing the clearest, most accurate night sky, the Zeiss projector can move the "stars" 10,000 years forward or backward in time, as well as show the cosmos from the perspective of the solar system's other eight planets. Special features allow planetarium staff to demonstrate eclipses, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena.
The planetariumís exhibitions are didactical, which allows students and other visitors to actively engage in the understanding of thr cosmos. The new technologies provided by the center are adding to the enthusiasm of the visitors.
Visitors are also attracted to the unique shape of the building and the content of the exhibits. It is helping people to understand what astronomy is, and what the stars and the planets are doing at any given moment.