The Samuel Oschin Planetarium

Griffith Observatory's renovated and newly-named Samuel Oschin Planetarium has been completely re-invented, from the compass rose on the new cork floor to the premium seamless perforated aluminum dome. It features an array of state-of-the-art technologies to support world-class scientific educational programming for audiences of all ages. Visitors to the 300-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium will have an experience light-years ahead of most planetarium shows. From the moment they pass through the historic bronze and leather doors, they will be in an immersive environment carefully designed to create an authentic night sky and to present high quality experiences that are not only awe-inspiring but also thought provoking.

For a description of shows currently playing in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium including show times and ticket prices, please click here.

Key features of the Samuel Oschin Planetarium include:

Star Projector Zeiss Universarium Mark IX
Video Projectors Evans & Sutherland Digistar 3 digital laser projection system
Dome Spitz, Inc. perforated aluminum projection dome (at 75 feet, one of the world's largest)

Unlike many other planetaria, Griffith Observatory continues a 71-year tradition of presenting live planetarium programs with a lecturer who can connect with audiences and convey astronomical knowledge with enthusiasm and passion.

The new planetarium is named in honor of a generous gift from the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation.

The Star Projector

Imported from Germany, the new Zeiss Universarium Mark IX star projector is the most advanced in the world. The projector uses fiber-optics technology to deliver the most accurate and awe-inspiring planetarium dome full of stars anywhere. The computerized system offers visitors a detailed view of the night sky filled with thousands of stars and can be oriented to show what the sky looked like at any moment in human history. Griffith Observatory's scientific team was able to negotiate a fundamental improvement to the standard star field and worked closely with Zeiss engineers to create an unprecedented night sky of remarkable accuracy. Zeiss is so proud of the outcome, they have incorporated these refinements into subsequent projectors.
Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO) purchased the projector and gave it as a gift to Griffith Observatory.

Digistar 3 Laser Projection System

The Samuel Oschin Planetarium is one of the first major facilities in the United States to use Evans & Sutherland's cutting-edge, all-dome digital laser projection system. Two laser projectors - invisibly mounted in the north and south cove area - are a giant step forward from the existing CRT video projectors. The Digistar 3 laser projection system improves upon traditional video projection in four important ways:

Increased resolution and brightness for large-format projection
Intensified color contrast and saturation
Reduced distortion of images on the curved planetarium dome surface (with lasers, the depth of focus is practically unlimited)
Significantly reduced maintenance costs over time

Laser projectors transform the entire visual experience. For a dome as large as Griffith Observatory's (75-foot diameter), the capabilities of the lasers are the best way to bring engaging astronomical visuals to life.

This Digistar 3 laser projection system was made possible by a generous gift to FOTO from the L.K. Whittier Foundation.

The Dome

More than just one of the largest planetarium domes in the world, the Samuel Oschin Planetarium is one of the first to make use of the remarkable 'seamless' dome construction technology developed by Spitz, Inc., and demonstrated at the Soaring Over California attraction at Disney's California Adventure. Though the dome is constructed of separate aluminum panels, the seams between the panels are designed to disappear with proper lighting. Tiny perforations across the dome enable audio speakers, ventilation ducts, and other equipment to be located above and around the outside of the dome, leaving the interior uncluttered. Properly lit, the dome will seem infinite to the entering visitor, creating a uniquely immersive experience and a true-to-life re-creation of a remote, luminous, and pristine sky.

Completing the Experience

The final step in the transformation of the Samuel Oschin Planetarium was creating a comfortable, inspiring, and immersive environment for visitors. To that end, theatrical consultants were used to design lighting and sound systems that perform to a theatrical level of excellence. Replacing the old seats and their wooden headrests (once called 'the most uncomfortable seats in the Milky Way Galaxy') are padded, upholstered, and reclining seats for 300 visitors.

Opening Program: Centered in the Universe

The inaugural presentation in the new Samuel Oschin Planetarium is Centered in the Universe. For more information about the show, please click here.

The Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation

The naming of the Samuel Oschin Planetarium at Griffith Observatory is the latest recognition in a long line of charitable gifts made by the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation. The Foundation strives to improve the future for many through its support of astronomy, medicine, education, the arts, animal causes, and a variety of community organizations. With interests ranging from telescopes to microscopes and everything in between, signature donations include the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory which led to the finding of what may be new planets in our solar system and the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Mrs. Oschin says her husband wished the Foundation would encourage others to share in the work of improving our world and bringing hope for the future through stimulating collaboration and building enthusiasm in a broad range of philanthropic projects. She notes that astronomy was her husband's second love, and so perhaps it was inevitable that their path led to Griffith Observatory.

Mr. Oschin passed away in July 2003 and left a legacy to continue his work through the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation. Contributions to the City of Los Angeles and elsewhere, and to astronomers everywhere, will allow people to keep reaching for the stars for generations to come.