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Your Planetarium Starship


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Students in Orange County school districts who experience the planetarium will be given the chance to experience core STEM concepts through exhibits that are engaging and fun. College courses will be offered to students by OCC faculty, and members of the community will have the opportunity to attend shows, lectures and exhibits throughout the year.​

​The Planetarium will have unique features to serve all of its travelers: 

  • State-of-the-art Dome Theatre
  • Foucault Pendulum
  • Interactive science exhibit hall 
  • NOAA Science on a Sphere globe 
  • Theatre-style seating for 129 
  • Administrative offices 
  • Ticket Office​
  • Gift Shop


Foucault Pendulum​​​

​​Named for French physicist Leon Foucault, this device serves as a visual demonstration of the rotation of the earth. Designs vary, but the concept is deceptively simple: a pendulum, powered by an electromagnet, swings from a steel cable, knocking down a ring of pegs below it. Although the direction of the pendulum appears to be changing, it is in fact the Earth beneath the pendulum that moves. Our pendulum processes in a complete cycle approximately once every 43 hours, 10 minutes, and 18 seconds. With 96 pins arranged around the perimiter, and the pendulum knocking them down on both sides of it's swing, it takes about 13 and a half minutes to knock over each successive pin. 

With only a handful of Foucault Pendulums located in the state, OCC’s pendulum exhibit will be the first of its kind in Orange County, giving local students and the surrounding community a chance to experience firsthand one of the most fundamental aspects of our understanding of the universe. ​

​Science on a Sphere

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed Science on a Sphere as an educational tool to help people of all ages visualize the earth. Using computers and video projectors, animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change and ocean temperature can be shown on this giant globe, making complex environmental processes an interactive and captivating experience. 

OCC’s Science on a Sphere will reside in the Planetarium’s lobby/ exhibit hall, giving visitors an astronaut’s-eye-view of the earth as it changes minute to minute. 

​OCC Astronomy Village / Telescope Farm

​​​Base 11, an organization dedicated to propelling community college students in STEM careers by investing in new and disruptive innovation, has provided a grant of $1 million to enhance the area adjacent to the Planetarium. The grant will fund a telescope farm featuring solar and celestial telescopes that can be used by students and visitors to the planetarium. Additionally, the grant will fund a study and meeting place for OCC astronomy students and visiting scientists​.

Dome Theater

The heart and centerpiece of the Planetarium is the Dome Theater. 129 unidirectional, reclined seats sit beneath the 50-foot (15 meter) dome projection screen. The Dome is tilted forward 12 degrees for ease of viewing. The planetarium is powered by the state-of-the-art Digistar 6 platform that allows visitors to experience everything from a dark, quiet starry night to a journey to the very edge of the known universe on a whim. 6 Sony GTZ 270 Laser Projectors work together to fill the dome with 8K resolution picture and video for a truly immersive experience. 

The Dome Theater is the venue for most large events at the planetarium, including public and school shows, guest speakers, OCC astronomy labs, concerts, and more!

​Flight Plan​

Groundbreaking: Summer 2016 

Estimated Completion: Spring 2019

Estimated Cost: $20 million 

The Planetarium will be located on the Orange Coast College campus, adjacent to the Charles H. Lewis Center and the Allied Health, Biology and Consumer Health Complex, and positioned in the center of OCC’s Science Quad.