We have been in the Planetarium building many times before but we usually just walk through on our way to the science center. On our most recent visit we purchased tickets to one... read more
An architectural and cultural icon of St. Louis, the James S. McDonnell...
An architectural and cultural icon of St. Louis, the James S. McDonnell Planetarium of the Saint Louis Science Center is situated on a knoll in the southeast corner of Forest Park. Dedicated in 1963, the Planetarium in 1985 became the first phase of the Saint Louis Science Center, the main part of which is just south of the Planetarium, with the two buildings linked by a pedestrian bridge over I-64. (The Science Center's main building - see the "Saint Louis Science Center" listing - features over 90,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor permanent exhibits, a hall for touring exhibits and special events, an IMAX Dome theater, Discovery Room for families with younger children, plus food service and a gift shop.)
Within McDonnell Planetarium's striking Gyo Obata-designed hyperbolic shell is the Orthwein StarBay, an 80-foot wide planetarium chamber - the largest in North America - featuring a Zeiss IX star projector. The StarBay has no fixed seating, allowing attendees to star shows to lie on mats under one of the most realistic of artificial night skies; portable chairs are also available. Having an open chamber also allows the StarBay to host a variety of special events under the stars, from "camp-ins" to wedding receptions and parties, and even yoga classes.
On the lower, entry level of the Planetarium building are exhibits on space sciences, particularly those related to St. Louis, such as Mercury and Gemini capsules that were built at St. Louis' McDonnell Aircraft (now Boeing), and remote sensing exploration of Mars, where Washington University in St. Louis is a leading force. And outside the Planetarium is a Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet, which was built in St. Louis.
As with the rest of the Science Center, the Planetarium is open year-round and has no general admission fee. Star shows and other programming have nominal charges.