Mt. SAC Planetarium Celebrates 50 Years

photo of the planetarium projector
By Mike Taylor

October 23, 2018 - 10:28 AM

The Mt. SAC Randall Planetarium will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an Anniversary Weekend featuring a presentation by astronaut Dr. Kathryn Thornton, free planetarium shows, and much more on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9 and 10, at the college planetarium, building 26C, and the Design Technology Center, 13 - 1700.

Thornton, who was selected by NASA to become an astronaut in 1985, will speak on the past 50 years of space exploration on Friday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m., in the college’s Design Technology Auditorium, building 13, room 1700. Thornton has logged over 975 hours in space and is a veteran of four space missions onboard the Space Shuttles Discovery, Endeavour, and Columbia. She also has more than 21 hours of extravehicular activity and, for a time, held the record as the woman with the most spacewalks. She was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010.

The 50th Anniversary Weekend continues on Saturday, Nov. 10, with free planetarium shows, solar telescope viewing, rocket launching, and free prize drawings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Mt. SAC Planetarium opened as a science/teaching facility in fall 1967 and began presenting free public programming in 1968. Later in October 2003, author Ray Bradbury and Star Trek actor George Takei helped kickoff a fund-raising campaign to renovate the planetarium. Then in June 2009, the planetarium reopened after a five-year renovation project and was renamed the Jim and Eleanor Randall Planetarium. The newly renovated facility reopened with a $480,000 state-of-the-art Zeiss Skymaster ZKP 4 projector and a multimedia Digistar 3 sky projection system that replaced the former antiquated projector from the 1960s.

The facility is used by students and the community. Since its opening, hundreds of thousands of people have benefited from the planetarium through classes, community shows, and school programs. Today, the multi-media planetarium shows use a variety of state-of-the-art special effects, projectors, lasers, and multi-channel surround sound. Seated under the planetarium’s 35-foot dome, viewers see stars as they might away from city lights and pollution.

For more information about the planetarium’s 50th anniversary, call (909) 274-5795.