Look back into space 15 years ago: chunks of rock and ice go whizzing by forcing the spaceship pilots to perform risky maneuvers in which the astronauts are practically shaken to bits. Deafening alarm sirens warn of impending collisions, and finally the nucleus of the comet fills the entire field of view of the panorama dome which arches over the planetarium visitors' heads. The engines roar for a last time, and billows of smoke blur visibility. This is followed by a truly icy silence. With 200 passengers on board, starship Walther Bauersfeld has landed on the nucleus of the Shoemaker Levy 9 comet.
Welcome to the future! The latest projection technology enables such a spectacle even though one of the main actors is missing: Shoemaker Levy 9 broke apart in Jupiter’s atmosphere in July 1994 and has not been seen since. These types of shows are now reality thanks to the planetarium technology from Carl Zeiss. Planetariums were originally developed to calculate the movements of the planets and stars in the heavens. At least this was what Oskar von Miller, the founder of the Deutsches Museum in Munich, “ordered” from Carl Zeiss. Professor Walther Bauersfeld, head engineer at Carl Zeiss at that time, surprised his client with the pioneering concept of a projection planetarium. This made it possible to operate an independent “star theater.” The world’s first planetarium opened its doors to the public at the Deutsches Museum on May 7, 1925.
What do today’s media-crazed audiences find so fascinating about planetariums? It is the razor-sharp scenes of the cosmos enabled by the glass-fiber projection optics from Carl Zeiss. These new possibilities of sky and planet projection are supported by powerdome: the all-dome projection system from Carl Zeiss that directly combines the optical-mechanical projection of the night sky with digital image and video projection. Over 80 million people annually encounter Carl Zeiss on their visits to planetariums. Is there life on other planets? Where does infinity end? These are questions that have consumed mankind for thousands of years – and will continue to do so in the future.