News › ZEISS · Anni­ver­sary »100 Years of Planetariums«


The spe­cial exhi­bi­tion was cere­mo­niously ope­ned on May 4, 2023 by Dr. Chris­tian Sicka, Cura­tor of Astro­nomy at the Deut­sches Museum in Munich, Mar­tin Kraus, Head of ZEISS Pla­ne­ta­rium Divi­sion, Direc­tor Gene­ral of the Deut­sches Museum Prof. Dr. Wolf­gang M. Heckl, and Dr. Karl Lam­precht, CEO of the ZEISS Group (from left).

On the occa­sion of the »100 Years of Pla­ne­ta­ri­ums« anni­ver­sary, the Deut­sches Museum in Munich is pre­sen­ting the fasci­na­ting history of pla­ne­ta­ri­ums in a spe­cial exhi­bi­tion of the same name. The exhi­bi­tion includes seve­ral his­to­ric pro­jec­tors, inclu­ding Model I, which ZEISS pre­sen­ted to the Deut­sches Museum on Octo­ber 21, 1923. This date is now con­side­red the birth of the modern planetarium.

The spe­cial exhi­bi­tion, which ZEISS sup­ported tech­ni­cally and logi­sti­cally, was offi­ci­ally ope­ned yes­ter­day evening fol­lo­wing the mee­ting of the Board of Trus­tees by Prof. Dr. Wolf­gang M. Heckl, Direc­tor Gene­ral of the Deut­sches Museum, Dr. Karl Lam­precht, CEO of the ZEISS Group, and a cere­mo­nial lec­ture »For what is inside is out­side« by Prof. Dr. Tho­mas W. Kraupe, for­mer Pre­si­dent of the Inter­na­tio­nal Pla­ne­ta­rium Society. The exhi­bi­tion will run bet­ween May 5, 2023, and Jan. 28, 2024, and will fea­ture not only the his­to­ric pro­jec­tors but also a mobile dome in which cur­rent pla­ne­ta­rium shows can be viewed.


In 1913, Oskar von Mil­ler, the foun­der of the Deut­sches Museum in Munich, had the idea for an appa­ra­tus that would make the move­ments of the sun, moon and pla­nets visi­ble at the same time as those of the stars and asked ZEISS about manu­fac­tu­ring a »rota­ting star sphere,« explains Dr. Chris­tian Sicka, Cura­tor of Astro­nomy at the Deut­sches Museum in Munich.

»We know that there was a mee­ting in Jena on Feb. 24, 1914, atten­ded by repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the com­pany and the Deut­sches Museum. They dis­cus­sed the com­pli­ca­ted mecha­nics and Dr. Walt­her Bau­ers­feld of ZEISS came up with the idea of pro­jec­ting the sun, moon and pla­nets. His col­le­ague Pro­fes­sor Rudolf Straubel remarked that the stars should then be pro­jec­ted as well, after all,« Sicka con­tin­ued. »So the pro­jec­tion pla­ne­ta­rium was a kind of spon­ta­neous idea during a brain­stor­ming session.«

After the First World War inter­rupted this deve­lo­p­ment, Bau­ers­feld pre­sen­ted a design for a pla­ne­ta­rium based on opti­cal-mecha­ni­cal light pro­jec­tion in March 1919. He and his team then worked out the details of the design. »On Octo­ber 21, 1923, the time had come, and the arti­fi­cial sky was illu­mi­na­ted for the first time,« Sicka explains. Expec­ta­ti­ons were far excee­ded at the time, he says, so that after com­ple­tion the device was per­ma­nently moun­ted in 1925 and ope­ned to the public as the world’s first pla­ne­ta­rium on May 7, 1925, with the ope­ning of the Deut­sches Museum in Munich. The first pro­jec­tor from ZEISS illu­mi­na­ted 4500 stars in the dome. With this and its suc­ces­sors Model IV, Model 1015 and the ZEISS SKYMASTER ZKP 4, the pla­ne­ta­rium in the Deut­sches Museum had more than 8.5 mil­lion visi­tors – most recently around 80 000 per year. Curr­ently, the pla­ne­ta­rium at the Deut­sches Museum is being reno­va­ted. The moder­niza­tion of the buil­ding is sche­du­led to be com­ple­ted in 2028, the 125th anni­ver­sary of the museum’s founding.


The first pla­ne­ta­rium pro­jec­tor in the Deut­sches Museum Munich Model I.

Inte­res­ted visi­tors to the spe­cial exhi­bi­tion can see that star pro­jec­tors have chan­ged since 1923. »At the same time, pla­ne­ta­ri­ums today offer much more than just a view of the stars,« says Dr. Karl Lam­precht, CEO of ZEISS. »They are places where, thanks in part to our inno­va­tive pla­ne­ta­rium tech­no­logy, the uni­verse can be expe­ri­en­ced. Child­ren and adults can tra­vel vir­tually through the entire uni­verse. Pla­ne­ta­ri­ums thus broa­den hori­zons and arouse enthu­si­asm for sci­ence and tech­no­logy. In doing so, they unite sci­ence, art, cul­ture and edu­ca­tion in a uni­que way.«

The com­bi­na­tion of the clas­sic opti­cal-mecha­ni­cal star pro­jec­tor and digi­tal video pro­jec­tors is alre­ady stan­dard in the most modern pla­ne­ta­ri­ums in the world. The ZEISS VELVET LED pro­jec­tor, deve­lo­ped and manu­fac­tu­red by ZEISS, is the only one in the world that has been crea­ted for astro­no­mical dis­plays in pla­ne­ta­ri­ums and com­bi­nes maxi­mum sharp­ness, strong colors and the hig­hest con­trast in the world. The digi­tal pro­jec­tor pro­vi­des an abso­lut­ely black image back­ground so that no gray back­ground light illu­mi­na­tes the night sky.

Today, there are around 3000 pla­ne­ta­rium instal­la­ti­ons in almost every coun­try in the world, 700 of which have been equip­ped with ZEISS tech­no­logy. The name ZEISS and pla­ne­ta­ri­ums are clo­sely lin­ked. Today, as a modern high-tech dome, the star thea­ter offers fasci­na­ting full-dome shows and is still a crowd pul­ler after 100 years. It is esti­ma­ted that more than one bil­lion peo­ple have visi­ted a pla­ne­ta­rium. This is ano­ther reason why the anni­ver­sary is some­thing very spe­cial for the company.

In addi­tion to the spe­cial exhi­bi­tion, ZEISS is also invol­ved in orga­ni­zing the ope­ning event, with a ZEISS Col­lo­quium in Novem­ber 2023. You can find all ZEISS acti­vi­ties for the anni­ver­sary at


The Inter­na­tio­nal Pla­ne­ta­rium Society (IPS) and the Gesell­schaft Deutsch­spra­chi­ger Pla­ne­ta­rien e. V. (GDP), with the sup­port of the Carl Zeiss Foun­da­tion, will cele­brate the anni­ver­sary tog­e­ther with pla­ne­ta­ri­ums around the world bet­ween Octo­ber 21, 2023 and May 7, 2025. Num­e­rous events and acti­vi­ties, such as two new pla­ne­ta­rium shows and a book pro­ject, are plan­ned for the two anni­ver­sary years. The offi­cial ope­ning cerem­ony will take place on Octo­ber 21, 2023, at the Deut­sches Museum in Munich and the Zeiss Pla­ne­ta­rium in Jena. The patron for the anni­ver­sary is Ger­man Pre­si­dent Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier. More infor­ma­tion on the anni­ver­sary can be found on the offi­cial anni­ver­sary web­site