Most stars and planets are millions of miles away, but inside the Carl-Zeiss-Planetarium Stuttgart, they seem close enough to touch.
The pyramid-shaped planetarium, located in the Schlossgarten in downtown Stuttgart, has a star projector that can recreate an exact replica of the night sky. It also provides educational videos on space and laser shows.
Each year, 140,000 people learn about space here, said Dr. Uwe Lemmer, planetarium director.
Lemmer specializes in German and English school presentations on the night sky and astronomy.
“I give tips on how to find the Big Dipper in the sky, the North Star,” said Lemmer, who directed the Nürnberg Planetarium before coming to Stuttgart in 2008. He also explains the stories behind the constellations. “Kids are always interested in these things,” he added.
Juanita Harvin, U.S. Africa Command educational liaison specialist, recalled taking a trip to the planetarium with children from U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart last year. “It was just awesome,” she said.
She also enjoyed Lemmer’s teaching style. “He is a hands-on teaching professor [who] loves teaching about the universe and astronomy, and he is very good at it,” Harvin said.
After learning about the stars, school groups are offered a free laser show.
Forty-minute laser shows are open to the public every Saturday at 7:15 p.m.
The planetarium will also offer English-language shows during American Days on May 6, 7 and 21. (See the next issue of The Citizen for more information.)
Technology of the future
Next year, the planetarium will improve the video quality further with a €2.5 million grant from the Stuttgart City Council, Lemmer said.
He plans to purchase “full dome technology,” which will fill the entire dome with one seamless video, instead of several pieces of video.
The technology will also provide a databank of videos and images from space, which will allow Lemmer to manually guide groups through the universe.
“Now, I can only play back pre-produced things,” Lemmer said. “In the future, we can do things on our own… we can say, ‘We would like to go to the Andromeda Galaxy. Let’s go.’”
The new technology will also add several English-language presentations to the planetarium’s library.
Lemmer still plans to conduct live presentations as well. “I like to do it live. It’s easier if there’s somebody in the dome that can walk around, explaining,” he said.
For more information, visit www.planetarium-stuttgart.de/index.php?id=64, or call civ. 0711-216-89015.