Marie Drake Planetarium

Where the stars always shine in Juneau, Alaska

Fundraiser for Digital Planetarium System

$6,200 raised to date

  • The mission of the Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium (FOMDP) is to provide astronomy education in Juneau including promoting, using and upgrading the Marie Drake Planetarium.
  • We aim to foster an interest in astronomy (and science in general) for people of all ages and levels of astronomy knowledge.
  • The planetarium is part of the Juneau School District. However, the district does not provide staffing or funding for planetarium programming or equipment.
  • Our Spitz projector celebrated its 50th birthday in 2017. It is an analog mechanical optical projection system. 
  •  It works well for showing the night sky but its capabilities are very limited. It can only show view from earth. 
  • Click here to learn more.
Help us continue to provide free astronomy education in Juneau to the public, school classes and community groups.

To increase the capability and versatility of the planetarium, we are  fundraising to buy a digital planetarium system.

We invite you to join us in opening a window from Juneau to the Universe.

A digital planetarium system will be an out of this world educational tool

Digital Planetarium System

  • A digital planetarium system is a computer based system using digital projection.
  • Think of the difference between a computer and a slide projector and you start to see the power of a digital system.
  • In a digital system, the projected image is made up of individual pixels. Because the dome is covered by an array of pixels rather than a fixed set of holes or lenses, anything can be projected: videos, images, other applications and labels.
  • The system includes a set of astronomy lesson plans for use for kindergarten through twelfth grade students.
  • A digital system will show the sky as seen from anywhere in the database. For example, views of the earth from Saturn, our solar system seen from above, the black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Virgo galactic super cluster or any other digital file or video.
  • We can zoom in and out of anything in the entire sky. We can show constellations, line drawings and artwork including those from multiple cultures.
  • The system comes with royalty free music.
  • The projector will be used with pre-made presentations including a set of videos.
  • The system includes an integrated multimedia player and it has the ability to project directly from another computer.
  • The system includes our high-resolution data set of the solar system for spectacular planetary exploration.
Proprietary high quality projection lens has sharp focus, high contrast, and minimal color separation

Other Features:

  • Easy access to scripts, with comment header display.
  • The ability to play an audio track in the background.
  • Dynamic placement and manipulation (mirror, rotate, scale, etc.) of images or videos against the sky.
  • The ability to elect a celestial object by name from a sortable, filterable, and searchable database.
  • The ability to adjust colors with a graphical color picker.

How will volunteers learn to use the new system?

  • Due to its excellent usability, no special operator training is required other than reading the user manual and using the free lesson plans.
    • Volunteers will use stored programs to teach themselves and others how to operate the system.
    • Our volunteers are excited about using this powerful tool to create and store great visual astronomy programming for Juneau.
    The system is portable and will be placed on top of the lid of our existing starball. It can also be used in a portable inflatable planetarium.
    Projector is operated via a handheld remote control.

    What System will be purchased?

    • The FOMDP board is leaning towards buying a system from Digitalis located in Bremerton, WA.
    • The model we purchase will depend on our fundraising success.
    • Learn more at The first page of the website has a five minute video overview.