A delightful but little-known public observatory and planetarium in Munich.
You won’t simply stumble on this observatory while walking around Munich; you have to know where to look. Once you find it though, you’re in for a treat. Although Munich is home to a large astronomy collection at the Deutsche Museum and the Supernova Planetarium at Garching, the Volkssternwarte is a unique place, and should not be passed up by space fans in the city.
The Volkssternwarte München (Bavarian Public Observatory Munich) includes a unique 1950s planetarium, four large telescopes, an exhibition with a sizable meteor collection, and an array of astronomical photos, including some incredibly details shots taken of the International Space Station.
The planetarium is a special treat, and some might say the main attraction. This is because it’s a ZKP1 Zeiss planetarium from the 1950s. That means no projectors, beamers, or movies—this thing is fully analog and controlled manually. The result is a much sharper projection of the sky, coupled with a lively show given by the operator. It shows both night and day, the planets, the Milky Way, meteorites, and more, and can change the location of the night sky. It’s a must-see for anyone who enjoys the night sky.
On the roof, you’ll find four permanently set-up telescopes and a series of smaller ones in tripods. The oldest one is a 7-inch refractor from 1971 and the largest is a 32-inch reflector from 2005. All the telescopes have different purposes and are set up for specific targets and observations, allowing visitors to see very different sights when moving between them.
Know Before You Go
Planetarium shows start daily at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the summer. On Mondays they are given in English and the other days they are in German. It is possible to email for a custom show, but do so in advance. Entrance is €6 for adults and €4 for discount groups. Tours are offered daily. The tour lasts about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the weather.
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