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 able to use the planetarium for visualization of complex concepts, 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 125
- Administrative offices
- Ticket Office
- Gift Shop
The lobby and exhibit hall of the planetarium contain several permanent and rotating exhibits that are free to visit during normal hours.
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 actually the Earth beneath the pendulum that moves. Our pendulum processes in a complete cycle approximately once every 43 hours. With 96 pins arranged around the perimeter, and the pendulum knocking them down on both sides of it's swing, it takes about 21 hours to knock down all the pins.
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. In addition, huge numbers of datasets from such diverse fields as astronomy, anthropology, geology, and climatology have been created to utilize the Sphere's unique visualization opportunities.
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.
While the primary Science on a Sphere globe contains hundreds of interesting datasets curated by the Planetarium Crew, sometimes you just want to explore on your own. Our four Science on a Sphere Explorer stations let you do just that. SOSx contains hundreds of datasets, but you get to choose what you want to see. Bounce around the surface of the moon, see the patterns of global air traffic, or track the migration of birds across North America with just a tap on the touch-screen displays.
The versatile exhibit space in the planetarium lobby makes it easy to bring a huge variety of experiences to planetarium guests. At the moment, we are working with local community members to get some interesting pieces for our rotating collection -- did someone say, metorites?? -- so stay tuned!
The heart and centerpiece of the Planetarium is the Dome Theater. 125 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!
The Planetarium will be located on the Orange Coast College campus, adjacent to the Charles H. Lewis Center and the Math and Science Lecture Halls, and positioned in the center of OCC’s Science Quad.
The small OCC Planetarium Gift Shop offers a stellar array of gift items, books, toys, and apparel for guests of all ages. Items range in price from $0.25 to $50.00 and all proceeds go towards planetarium operations, including new planetarium shows and exhibits!
The gift shop is also where visitors can purchase tickets to public planetarium shows offered on weekends and evenings, though guests are encouraged to book tickets ahead of time on occtickets.com
Check out our Public Show calendar to book your seats today!