The Brown Planetarium Mission...
To encourage scientific literacy and advancement through inspiring educational programming, innovative research, and service to our community.
Visit the Charles W. Brown Planetarium at Ball State University and experience the night sky as you have never seen it before.
The Brown Planetarium is part of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and is an immersive theater where state-of-the-art technology transforms the 16-meter (roughly 52-foot) dome into a simulation of the night sky as seen from Earth and from space. “Fly” through Saturn’s rings, land on Mars, travel to distant stars and galaxies and more.
Over 150 reclining seats allow guests to comfortably view projections from the planetarium's GOTO CHRONOS II HYBRID system, which includes an RSA Cosmos digital 4K system to display amazing visualizations based on real scientific data.
Open for educational programs and group visits, the Brown Planetarium reflects Ball State University’s commitment to service through educational engagement with the community. Read more about the planetarium team's work in the latest annual report.
The Brown Planetarium operates with the support of several student staff members and volunteers every year. Want to know what it's like to work at the planetarium? Read their profiles.
Charles W. Brown (second from the left, back row) and his family.
The Charles W. Brown Planetarium is named for businessman and philanthropist Charlie Brown, whose passion for science was rekindled by the planetarium project. Mr. Brown and his wife, Dr. Louise Tetrick, hope the planetarium will provide an incredible resource for the community, especially youth, as well as university students. Their goal is to make a difference in kids’ lives, as they believe that is where we can all be the most impactful. Mr. Brown graduated from Ball State University in 1971 with a degree in Business Administration.
A community planetarium has been a highlight of Ball State since 1967. That year, on the 5th of October, a 9.1-meter (30-foot) planetarium and Spitz A3P star projector first immersed audiences with a projection of the night sky in the lower level of the Cooper Science Complex. The planetarium was used for public programs for 47 years until a new state-of-the-art, 16-meter (roughly 52-foot) planetarium opened in 2014. The dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Charles W. Brown Planetarium was held on October 22 that year.
Over the years, the planetarium team has been led by many dedicated individuals. The first Planetarium Director at Ball State was Newton G. Sprague. Roger Scott led planetarium activities from 1978-1990. Afterwards, Ron Kaitchuck took over as Planetarium Director through June of 2019. In July of 2019, Dayna Thompson became the first female Planetarium Director at Ball State after serving as Assistant Planetarium Director for 7 years prior. Dr. Kaitchuck continued to serve the planetarium as Executive Director until his retirement in the summer of 2020.
Newton G. Sprague and students in the original Ball State University Planetarium, 1973.
Ribbon cutting ceremony for the Brown Planetarium on October 22, 2014.
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