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

Painting your Dome

Water based paint works well in the dome. Oil based or spray paint is not recommended because of the amount needed to cover the surface and the lack of ventilation in most classrooms.

For projector surfaces, use flat (not glossy) white paint and paint the dome segments prior to assembling the dome for the first time. Once assembled, you might want to touch up spots missed in the initial attempt. One coat will probably do well for projector surfaces even if it appears streaky and uneven in a well-lit room.
Rollers work better than brushes for large surface areas.

This is a view of the interior of the finished dome within a lighted classroom.
As the water based paint dries, it may tend to make the cardboard projector panels curl. You can either brace the panels as they dry, or let them curl and flatten them later.

If you paint the interior of the base wall black, there will be little reflection from the projector and this will enhance the brightness of the projected stars.

If you add a ventilation system, paint all interior surfaces black to absorb light from outside the dome.

Fixed stars
Some teachers use the smaller domes as lessons unto themselves and not primarily as a tool for astronomy. For the smaller domes, a projector to show the stars may not be the most logical choice.

Here are some ideas for painting the interior of the dome:

  • Using a planisphere or star chart, outline the major constellations and brighter stars. You can use the charts provided with the projector page as a guide, even if you don’t build a projector.
  • Use glow in the dark paint.
  • Use constellations from a variety of cultures, such as Native American, Egyptian, and Chinese historical constellations.
  • Paint longitude and latitude lines and use the dome or globe to teach about navigation.
  • Use the opportunity to make the dome an art project and have students .supply creative ideas.


Click here for a printable version



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



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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.