A Planetarium for Every Classroom
Building and Using a Planetarium for Your Classroom Using Inexpensive Materials



More new stuff:

There's now a Yahoo Group for Small Planetariums... visit this address and read about several other cardboard and foamboard planetariums! As one member writes, "The work you have done with Deer Valley High School has been the subject of a bit of discussion, and the inspiration for several members to go out and build planetariums of their own."

We're happy to have been an inspiration to anyone! Also visit the related site
www.astro-obsessions.com/small_planetarium for forum discussions and ideas on domes and projectors!

New: Look at the resources page for a link to the Home Planetarium Association!

Send us your domes! If you visit this site and build a dome, send us a picture. Our first response is on the Feedback page...take a look!

New: Click here for NSTA files and session information for NSTA Atlanta.

If you cannot afford to take your students to a planetarium, why not bring the planetarium to them? For less than the cost of a field trip to a distant planetarium, you can construct your own homemade planetarium and have it to use over and over. The Cardboard Planetarium project will show you how to build your own personal or classroom planetarium. Not only will you learn how to build one out of inexpensive materials, you will learn how to use it for everything from astronomy lessons to mathematics and ar lessons.

This project was developed using general geodesic dome principles, the concept of cylindrical projection, and designs cited as noted in the citation page. The development of this web site was supported by the Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation, the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and Deer Valley High School.


Building a planetarium is fun, educational, and useful. The construction of the dome can be used to support mathematics standards, and the use of the dome for presentations can support physical science, mathematics, and earth science standards. The planetarium can be preserved for use in future years, or a new one can be constructed each year to hold costs to a minimum.

This web site is divided into six sections. We recommend you read through the entire site before beginning construction of your dome.

Building a Dome: This section details plans for everything from a simple desktop dome model to a large scale two-frequency geodesic dome. Plans are provided for a 20 cm dome, a 2 meter dome, and a 5 meter dome. The information needed to scale to other sizes as materials or space permit is provided.

New! We got this idea via email recently:

"Jeff, I am in the middle of constructing a 4 meter planetarium. I think that I will be able to complete the project without having to purchase anything. I contacted a recycling center who was able to provide me with 100 sheets of 4x8 cardboard. Many door and window companies receive their product separated by cardboard. The recycling center gets a load every few weeks. The sheets are all perfect.

The second hint is to use pvc pipe instead of paper clamps. First, take a length of 2” pvc pipe and cut it into 2 inch pieces. Second, slice through the length of each piece of pvc pipe. If you pull the sliced piece apart it holds the cardboard better than a binder clip and is free. With a band saw you can make several hundreds of the clamps in a few minutes. " - Mark Burbank

Building a Projector: Plans and templates for a simple cylindrical projection system are provided; just print out the template on transparency, build a light bulb on a little stand, and you are ready to start. More sophisticated modifications are also presented.

Curriculum: Once you build it, what do you do with it? Basic astronomy lessons, mathematics concepts, and advanced topics in astronomy can be taught effectively with a planetarium.

Resources: Links and references about geodesic domes, planetariums, and astronomy.

Feedback: Send us your pictures of your completed domes, and share lesson plans with us.

Key words for index searches: Do it yourself, cardboard, planetarium, homemade, astronomy, education




NSTA Files

Building a Dome

2 Meter
5 Meter
Paint Your Project


Making a Projector

Building a Projector


Using the Planetarium




Celebration Checklist page

Send your dome building report to us!


Quick Links

Deer Valley High School Science Department

Antioch SPACE Academy

AstronomyTeacher's web site


Contact Us

Jeff Adkins

Cheryl Domenichelli



Site counter courtesy of www.digits.com

This project was supported by a County Technology Academy Grant funded by the Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation in cooperation with the Contra Costa County Office of Education.