The Marie Drake Planetarium

Where the stars always shine in Juneau, AK

Grants for New Digital Projector System etc. Listed in order of size

December 2019

We were awarded a $25,000 grant from Coeur Alaska - Kensington Mine. This enabled us to complete phase three of our three part fundraising plan.

Rosemary Walling stands next to the new digital projector at Marie Drake Planetarium in this Dec. 22, 2019  Photo by Steve Kocsis.

Thank You Coeur Alaska

January 19, 2020

The Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium wish to thank Coeur Alaska for its generous grant of $25,000.

Due to your generosity, and other grants and donations, we have completed the purchase a new and fully functional Digital Projection System made by Digitalis Education Solutions, Inc. of Bremerton, Washington.

The board is happy to purchase a high quality system with the features we wished for. Its great to be able to spend less time fundraising and more on creating programming.

The system was assembled and we have started the process of learning to use it. We are excited to have this powerful new tool as we continue offering free astronomy education to the public, school classes and community groups. 

We are aiming for a grand opening in February 2020. The board are currently learning to use the new system

2020 will be a great year. We look forward to improving our astronomy education for people of all ages and levels of astronomy knowledge. This supports Coeur’s goal of supporting math and science education.

We are still researching the capability for incorporating and exploring high-resolution landscape data for Southeast Alaska will be of interest for geographical and environment applications.

Cristina Della Rosa,

President, Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium

Thank you Rasmuson

The Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium recently received a Tier 1 grant of $25,000 from the Rasmuson Foundation in Anchorage. The FOMDP board is grateful for this generous award — its largest to date.

This award, combined with other grants and individual donations, brings us nearly halfway to having a new digital planetarium system. 

Since 1991, volunteers supported and operated Juneau’s only planetarium, located downtown in the building of the same name. Our existing analog Spitz “starball” projector is now 52 years old. The new computer-based system will vastly increase the capability and versatility of the planetarium. It will again be a powerful tool for astronomy, STEM and cultural education in Juneau.

Thank you again to the Rasmuson Foundation for so generously supporting our campaign to revitalize and reintegrate the Marie Drake Planetarium into the Juneau community.

Cristina Della Rosa, Steve Kocsis, Clark Branch, Rosemary Walling, Dave Hanson,

Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium Board

Juneau Community Foundation's Juneau Fund

In April, 2020, we received an award from this fund . We used these funds for training on how to use our new digital planetarium system

We were awarded a matching grant of $10,000 from  the Juneau Community Foundation's Blackwell Fund in October, 2018. It was matched in a month.

Image from

September 2019

Thank you letters for Dec. 15, 2019

The Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium is pleased to announce that we matched a $10,000 grant from the Juneau Community Foundation’s Blackwell Fund within a month. With these funds and prior grants and donations, we completed phase two (of three phases) of our fundraising plan.

We now have the hardware and software needed for an initial Digitarium Lambda planetarium system, and we are planning for our complete system. Volunteers hope to offer a grand opening in January or February, and will soon follow with shows for the public, school classes and community groups.

We appreciate all donations and specifically acknowledge here our major business and individual donors: These include are Space Unlimited, Gary Jenkins, Bob Wild, Megan Busby, Nancy Davis and Joe Newman, Northwind Architects, Patricia Harris, Bill Leighty, Dr. Daniel Kim, and anonymous planetarium board members. Our grants, in-kind donations and cash donations of $50 or more are listed on our website.

We would also like to thank and acknowledge Seattle’s Museum of Flight and the Juneau School District for their support during our Digital Planetarium Week in October. With the additional boost from that week, the Juneau community was and continues to be very generous.

Cristina Della Rosa,

October, 2019 We were awarded a matching grant of $10,000 from  the Juneau Community Foundation's Blackwell Fund.  In a month, we matched this grant. Three board members had opportunity to visit Matt Blackwell who is the son of the late Mike Blackwell. Matt works at the Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences. 

Oct. 5, 2019

Thank you for the grant

The Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium is very grateful to have a $10,000 matching grant in place from the Juneau Community Foundation’s Blackwell Fund. These funds will go toward our project to buy a new digital planetarium system for Juneau from Digitalis Education Solutions.

The Blackwell Fund continues the legacy of Juneau philanthropist Mike Blackwell. His two sons, Matthew and Andrew, told us they are “really excited about this project. It fits very well with our father’s legacy and I think he would enjoy it.”


We were awarded a matching grant of $2,000 from the Douglas-Dornan Foundation via the Juneau Community Foundation. Matching funds raised in 2013.

October 27, Juneau Empire

The Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium thank the Douglas-Dornan Foundation for a grant toward the purchase of a new digital projector. We also thank the Juneau Community Foundation and Juneau Montessori for their help in obtaining this grant.

We are a small group of volunteers dedicated to Astronomy education in Juneau. We present free public shows for all ages. Our topics range from the light-hearted Astronomy humor to the profound What put the bang in the big bang? We will start doing shows in the valley beginning this October at UAS, but the next show at the Planetarium downtown is on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 6:30 p.m., Mercury and Hermes. 


Steve Kocsis, Secretary Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium

2018  - Awarded $2,000 

In March, 2020 we were awarded a grant from Alaska USA’s Community Support Fund.

August 9, 2020

Thank you letter.

The ‘Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium’ are pleased to announce that we have received $500 from Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Community Support Program. It was used to buy an iPad for our new digital projector. We also received $1,000 from Juneau Community Foundation’s Juneau Fund.

These funds were used for training on our new digital projector.

The planetarium was also selected by Mudrooms as one of the local nonprofits to benefit from season 10.

Cristina Della Rosa,

2015 - Awarded $500

April 5, 2015

Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium thank American Seafoods

The Friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium want to thank American Seafoods for the generous grant made to our organization. Our volunteer group promotes free astronomical education using Marie Drake's 30-foot dome, the 48 year old Spitz projector and digital media. The Spitz still works but, like a used car, will slowly run down. We are planning for it’s demise by researching and purchasing a new system. The replacement will be digital, which gives versatility such as not being restricted to Earth-centered views.

However, the analog Spitz does give superior star images. The end result will be a system that will be able to access the vast library of digital astronomical files to display the grandeur of the universe.

Information on our upcoming and past shows can be found at,

We were awarded a grant to attend a climate change workshop hosted by Seattle's Pacific Science Center. Two board members learned how to share climate science in a planetarium setting. 

Workshop attendees - 

A great group of people passionate about teaching astronomy