When The Children’s Museum opened its SpaceQuest® Planetarium in 1989, it was one of the most advanced planetariums in the world. Using a computer-driven Digistar projector, which was one of only six in use in the world in 1989, it provided shows that ranged from explorations of the night sky in Indiana and beyond to simulated space flights and light displays programmed to music.
Designed by the local architectural firm Woollen, Molzan and Partners, the 130-seat theater is housed inside a copper-topped dome that’s a prominent feature of the museum’s Meridian Street façade. While the projection system and operational software have since been updated, SpaceQuest’s appeal remains unchanged. From the beginning, its free daily shows—and occasional special ticketed events—have been popular with families, schools groups, and stargazers of all ages.
Currently visitors can attend shows that reveal the stars of the Indiana night sky, teach them how a telescope works, take them on a fly-by the Milky Way galaxy to see beautiful nebulae and witness the explosions of dying stars. In 2012, the museum premiered its first-ever full-dome planetarium show, Flight Adventures,* which engages children and families in the history and science of flight. Funded by a grant from NASA, the show is offered free of charge to interested planetariums, and is, to date, showing in 13 U.S. states and eight countries around the world!
* Based on work supported by NASA under grant award Number NNX10AK16G. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.