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CCNY Planetarium

CCNY Planetarium The City College of New York has a planetarium. Come visit and see the stars - from the basement!

Operating as usual

05/07/2022
CCNY planetarium

Thanks for visiting! We’re slowly opening up to our CCNY community over the next few weeks. Hopefully we can open the doors wider in the near future.

05/03/2022

1986 - Halley’s Comet 💫

If you were around in the early spring of 1986, you might have been fortunate enough to get a peak at a regular visitor: Halley’s Comet. (And, perhaps this song So Far Away was playing on the radio - it was a billboard top 20 in 1986)

This comet orbits the sun once every 76 years (or so). Even though we can’t see its glowing coma right now, if you hang tight until 2061, it’s expected to return. We can extrapolate its orbit about the sun based on its observed positions over time, when it does pass close enough to earth. That trail is what’s shown here. Unlike the planets, the orbit of this comet (and most others) does not lie in the ecliptic plane but extends out in an angled direction.

Simulation rendered with

Halley’s Comet ephemera from Horizons

Phew 😅 we just finished our first live space tour since closing up shop in 2020. A little rusty remembering all the cont...
04/27/2022

Phew 😅 we just finished our first live space tour since closing up shop in 2020. A little rusty remembering all the controls for our spacecraft, but thanks to our magic constellation socks (thank you OJK), we made it back to earth by the end.

In case you missed it, or were there and forgot to get a postcard, here are some scenes from the show.

A) the socks
B) the five planets aligned over a June sky in
C) a sunset in Jezero Crater, Mars
D) Rachmaninov crater, Mercury.

We should start having more shows soon, so if you’re in the NYC area and need a quick and informal trip to outer space, look us up.

As usual, we did the show with our favorite universe simulation software

Thanks to for orchestrating and prompting the event.

See you soon!

A trip back in time. 🕰This post is very special. Yesterday, we stopped by our Director’s undergraduate alma matter to se...
01/01/2022

A trip back in time. 🕰

This post is very special. Yesterday, we stopped by our Director’s undergraduate alma matter to see a recent installation of an absolutely stunning instrument: a functional armillary sphere based on designs from the pre-telescope era, but with a decidedly modern sheen.

We were completely floored by the beauty of this object. In centuries past, these instruments would be used to create physical models of the universe, with the various rings permitting motions parallel to the observed motions of the heavens. For today’s students, such an object can help visualize and physically experience the abstract geometries of celestial motions.

While many science driven cultures have created such spheres for early astronomical investigations (eg. China and Greece in ~400-200 BC, India a few hundred years later) this version is based on the transformative instruments of Tycho Brahe, the Danish astronomer whose meticulous and very accurate tables of star and planet data led to the modern era of astronomy.

Where can you find this instrument? It’s located in between the Fine Arts Building and The Meem Library on the campus of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM:

It was given to school as a gift by the class of 2004 (thank you!) and created by sculptor David Harber.

Hopefully it will be used by thousands in the years to come. Unlike modern mobile apps that show the motions of the heavens, this one doesn’t fit in your pocket, but then again, it never needs charging and won’t break when it gets wet!

(Also shown is the college’s well known Ptolemy Stone, a more modest and stylistically restrained instrument, but still a powerful tool in itself)

And thanks to for the snapping image #2

12/11/2021

Mountains of Light 🏔💡

Usually the tops of mountains are free from the light pollution affecting urban areas.

In this simulation, we’ve given the earth’s normal topography a boost using the Earth at Night data set. Here are some US cities with vertical height scaling mapped to their night time light output.

It’s fascinating to look at the artificial mountain ranges connecting our populated areas in grids across the US. (Those are highways!)

Inspired by a post from

Simulated with

Night Lights 2012 Map data set can be found here: https://visibleearth.nasa.gov/images/79765/night-lights-2012-map
NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided courtesy of Chris Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center). Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and the DoD.

© 2021 CCNY Planetarium / All Rights Reserved

10/08/2021

Mars’ Olympus Mons is biiiiig. 🗻

This simulated view shows our own Mt. Everest compared to Olympus Mons, the colossal shield volcano on Mars.

Everest, Earth’s largest peak is around 9 km high, less than half the height of Olympus Mons which extends to 21.9 kilometers above the Martian surface. Olympus Mons would just fit within the borders of France (or the US state of New Mexico) as its diameter is roughly 600 kilometers. This view shows just how big that is! Hard to comprehend without our virtual spaceship.

Simulation rendered in

Earth data prepared with BlenderGIS.

07/04/2021

Happy 4th! 🎆

We set up a fireworks show for Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity of to watch from Jezero Crater as the sun sets in the distance. We hope you’re enjoying your independence little robots!

What’s real and what’s not:

The topography data is surface data of Mars inside Jezero Crater.

The fireworks are just pretend, based on OpenGL shader inspired by BigWings/The_ArtOfCode‬ - thx! (probably not enough oxygen in the the martian atmosphere to even have regular combustion based fireworks)

Audio is real fireworks audio processed to simulate what they might sounds like in a Martian atmosphere by Nasa’s Sounds of Mars page: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/participate/sounds/?voice=true

Rendered in

Vintage Powerpoints - EclipsesDid you know, before the days of smart boards and power points, and even over head project...
06/09/2021

Vintage Powerpoints - Eclipses

Did you know, before the days of smart boards and power points, and even over head projectors, teachers and professors used custom made glass slides to show diagrams and figures during class. Each one was hand made and meant to last for decades. Ours have lasted over a century!

We happen to have a few thousand lying around the basement.

Here are a few regarding eclipses, probably used to teach an astronomy or physics class over a hundred years ago.

Oh yeah, Annular Eclipse coming Thursday, June 10th…

Big thanks to for getting these scanned in and initiating the digitization project. They might last another hundred years, but only if they stay hidden in their boxes.

Slide #1: Total Eclipse August 7th 1869
Slide #2: Schematic diagram showing Earth’s umbra
Slide #3: Stage of total solar eclipse from Jan 24, 1925
Slide #4: Undated Annular Eclipse
Slide #5: The Saros Cycle of Eclipses
Slide #6: Predicted Solar Eclipses from 1919 to 1940.

@ CCNY Planetarium

05/15/2021

Happy International Astronomy Day

May 15, 2021 is International Astronomy Day (or just Astronomy Day given the a-geopolitical nature of space).

Animation: A simulated EarthRise on the moon, rendered with OpenSpace.

05/14/2021
Cosmic Pinball

Some cosmic pinball featuring Voyager 2, as it gets bounced around the solar system. During its first decade or so, Voyager 2 met Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune for close up encounters. Its trajectory was altered by the gravitational fields of these gas and ice giants. You can see the effect in this simulation showing the path of the spacecraft over a few dozen years.

Rendered in OpenSpace.

The constellation Orion, as it appears every year on March 17th over the coast of Ireland. Happy St. Patrick’s Day
03/17/2021

The constellation Orion, as it appears every year on March 17th over the coast of Ireland.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy International Planetarium Day. (One of the lesser known holidays)Wish we could gather around this glowing speckled...
03/14/2021

Happy International Planetarium Day. (One of the lesser known holidays)

Wish we could gather around this glowing speckled orb and share the beauty with you all.



The Spitz 512 StarBall

Sunset in Jezero Crater.Landing in just a few hours is the next inhabitant of Mars:  rover. Good luck little buddy. Rend...
02/18/2021

Sunset in Jezero Crater.

Landing in just a few hours is the next inhabitant of Mars: rover.

Good luck little buddy.

Rendered with OpenSpace.
Topographic data from HiRISE

 in miniature. Chips and scratches on old Xmas tree bulbs look like planetariums of never before seen star maps.   🎄
12/26/2020

in miniature.

Chips and scratches on old Xmas tree bulbs look like planetariums of never before seen star maps.

🎄

What a night!! The clouds showed some mercy and the two gas giants delivered. The  from  with a lovely group of .       ...
12/22/2020

What a night!! The clouds showed some mercy and the two gas giants delivered.

The from with a lovely group of .

@ Fort Greene Park

Another night of clear skies . We hope some other city slickers looked up towards the Southwest sky around 5:10 this eve...
12/18/2020

Another night of clear skies . We hope some other city slickers looked up towards the Southwest sky around 5:10 this evening to witness the splendor. It was divine.

08/26/2020

We wish we could invite all the , faculty and staff down to the dome for a show this week. Looks like it will have to wait... stay tuned though. As soon as we can, we'll open our doors, close the hatch, and fly you to the moon! Here's a flyby of for now.

51 years ago today  landed on the moon. It took some serious skills to find a good spot. Here are the last few minutes o...
07/20/2020

51 years ago today landed on the moon. It took some serious skills to find a good spot. Here are the last few minutes of the flight showing the trajectory of the lunar lander as Neil Armstrong gracefully guides it down to the surface.

07/03/2020

Happy ‪‬ . We've decided to skip the local ‪‬ show and head to Tycho Crater, on the ‪‬. It's a lot quieter and there is plenty of .

Next year? Europa maybe?

(credits: fireworks OpenGL shader inspired by BigWings/The_ArtOfCode‬ - thx!)

06/21/2020

Today’s will cast a shadow over parts of Africa and Asia. To bad we can’t be there in person to witness. Here’s what it might be like from a few thousand km above the earth. #2020 has some ok things no?

06/01/2020

Enjoy this peaceful view (simulated of course) from the cupola of the as it makes a pass over .

05/29/2020

It's looking like clouds might get in the way of tonight's . Here's our last simulated , providing you with a virtual helicopter ride up the East River, looking West across . All done with .

05/28/2020

What if you managed to catch a picture perfect sunset everyday of the year? That would take some dedication. Here's a quick version of the setting sun over every day during 2020. Note the days around the end of May and early July.

05/25/2020

Coming this week to ...
. On May 29, sunset will line up with the nyc street grid.

We probably won’t attend in person so we’ve done the next best thing.

Using and , we can visualize this event without leaving the house. ☹️/😊

Enjoy. More views to come throughout the week.

Happy  ! 🌎Here's a little voyage that takes us from the edges of our  all the way back to Earth.  with OpenSpaceProj .ht...
04/22/2020
3 x 10^26 meters in 35 measures

Happy ! 🌎Here's a little voyage that takes us from the edges of our all the way back to Earth. with OpenSpaceProj .

https://youtu.be/z-G5zMDbdWE

Starting from about 10 Gigaparsecs away, we fly inwards. We pass through far away galaxies on our way to the Milkyway and eventually find the solar system an...

We're not doing any live shows right now (duh). Instead, if you need to relax and voyage outside your apt, here's the ne...
04/13/2020
Four Moons of Jupiter and a Four Part Fugue

We're not doing any live shows right now (duh). Instead, if you need to relax and voyage outside your apt, here's the next best thing: our new YouTube Channel, where we'll post videos, like this one, which features the moons of Jupiter and music by Bach:

https://youtu.be/-qhx-ATrUbo

Behold the splendor of the four Galilean moons, their massive central host Jupiter, and the first fugue from J.S. Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier. Key Moments: ...

Feeling a little constrained of late? Sorry we can’t transport you to far away lands right now. Did you  know however, t...
03/24/2020

Feeling a little constrained of late? Sorry we can’t transport you to far away lands right now. Did you know however, that you (and whoever happens to be around the house) can take your own trips around the cosmos? The software we use in the planetarium is free and open source: check out for more. If you have a gaming quality machine you should be able to run it just fine.

12/25/2019

Radar just detected a launch from the North Pole - monitoring the flight trajectory - NYC bound - happy holidays from the CCNY Planetarium!

What if you could see in Xrays? Or infrared? Or maybe the 21 cm line emitted by changes in energy of neutral hydrogen at...
11/21/2019

What if you could see in Xrays? Or infrared? Or maybe the 21 cm line emitted by changes in energy of neutral hydrogen atoms? Ans: it would look gorgeous!! We’re adding some more all-sky maps so we can see how the sky looks in different wavelengths of light.

Credits:
X-ray, ROSAT
Near-infrared, WISE
Neutral Hydrogen, HI4PI
and of course

Well done Mercury! We had a great viewing of the transit all morning. Our astrophotography leaves something do be desire...
11/11/2019

Well done Mercury! We had a great viewing of the transit all morning. Our astrophotography leaves something do be desired (yes that little smudge in the middle of the sun is Mercury). But we made up for it with great company and good weather. Even public safety swung by to make sure the planets were all adhering to Kepler’s Laws! @ The City College of New York

11/07/2019

If the skies are nice on the morning of the 11th, join us in front of the NAC building to do what you were always told not to do: stare at the sun! We’ll set up the solar telescope and try to catch a glimpse of the 2019. Next transit is not going to happen until 2032. (And you’re supposed to graduate by then aren’t you)

(it is actually)

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160 Convent Ave
New York, NY
10031

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The CCNY Planetarium

First installed in 1973-74, the CCNY Planetarium in the Marshak Science Building has seen decades of action bringing crystal clear night skies to the locals of Hamilton Heights as well as the greater NYC metropolitan region. Its use has fluctuated over the years, however we are currently taking steps to bring the planetarium back to life by adding some modern technologies to the room. We’ll compliment the existing Spitz 512 analog instrument with digital projections and theatre quality audio. During the first half of 2018, we plan to begin offering shows again for CCNY students. After we iron out the wrinkles, we hope to expand our invitations to local neighborhoods and schools as well. In the meantime, follow us here on FB or Instagram (ccnyplanetarium) to hear about updates and announcements.


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We're still digging ourselves out of this snow ❄️

Credit: James Hedberg, director of CCNY Planetarium at The City College of New York. His mom, a 1969 City College graduate, gifted him the beaver mascot.
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