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John R. Kirk Planetarium at SUNY New Paltz (logo)

About the Planetarium

The Planetarium Today

All celestial images originally produced by Stellarium (www.stellarium.org)

The Planetarium is an indoor domed theater that seats 44.

The Planetarium's projection system was upgraded in 2013 with the installation of a fish-eye lens projector that can display digital simulations of the sky and mimic celestial motions. It allows the audience to see and zoom in on images of stars, constellations, planets, galaxies and other deep sky objects. It also allows the audience to view the sky as seen from different planets and moons, and has many other features.

The original Spitz Space Systems A3P projector is still in use and displays the stars and planets of any season, as seen from any latitude, either in their current positions or those of the deep past or far future. Various auxiliary projectors help in illustrating astronomical phenomena.

The primary goal of the Planetarium program is education, so we will also feature shows especially geared toward children. We can provide special times and shows for teachers who wish to bring their classes to the Planetarium.

Similar arrangements can be made for special showings for other groups, such as corporate, civic, hospital, church, and scouting organizations. Informal scientific workshops can also be arranged for special study topics and we can even host your birthday party!

History of the Planetarium

photo of John R. Kirk

John R. Kirk was a faculty member in our Philosophy Department in the 1960s and 70s. He was the first director of the New Paltz Planetarium. The Planetarium became his special interest and the focal point of his vision and his efforts. In addition to college students and local citizens, thousands of schoolchildren in the Mid-Hudson Valley were the beneficiaries of his energies. Aware of the Planetarium's potential, Kirk created a library of outstanding programs, which brought together his knowledge and sensitivity in a unique blend of astronomy, history and classical music. Soon after he died in 1979, the College Faculty petitioned the College Council to name the Planetarium after him.