Planetarium, Projector, and Science Museum – Big Bear Lake, California - Atlas Obscura

Planetarium, Projector, and Science Museum

Big Bear Lake, California

In the days before HD projectors and IMAX, some of the most powerful projectors belonged to planetariums. 


These gargantuan, dome-shaped projectors would recreate the night sky with high powered lights and a dome. The projectors were a sight to behold themselves, with their many knobs and lenses. Their potential for eye candy is partly the reason for the Planetarium Projector and Science Museum.

Museum owner Owen Phairis keeps the largest collection of planetarium projectors in the world. While there are only seventeen projectors in the collection, their gigantic size makes it hard for any one person to keep too many of them at once. However, the projectors that the museum has are impressive, from a small Goto S-3 projector (one of three left in the world), to the huge Spitz STS projector.  

The projectors still work, and Phairis demonstrates their use by turning them on and simulating the night sky, or by running a show called CAPTAIN CORONA in the “Overcast of Doom”, complete with an old animatronic robot starring as Captain Corona.

The museum is currently a traveling museum with no set route. However, Phairis is looking for museums who will host his exhibits, so be on the lookout for these marvels coming to your local museum.

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