Star Theatre

The Story of the Planetarium  

William Firebrace

Star Theatre

William Firebrace

Distributed for Reaktion Books

256 pages | 30 color plates, 40 halftones | 6 x 8 1/4
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9781780238357 Published December 2017 For sale in North and South America only
Most of us can recall a childhood visit to a planetarium: the sense of anticipation as the room darkens. The stars begin to appear as the voice of an astronomer is heard. In the planetarium, where the audience is transported to distant galaxies, the wondrous complexity of the cosmos combines with entertainment to become a theater of the night.

Star Theatre explores the history of the planetarium’s mix of science and spectacle. William Firebrace reveals how in the planetarium, the solar system and universe is demonstrated on an ever-expanding scale. He traces the origins of the building through history, from its antecedents to its invention in Germany in the 1920s, developments in the USSR and the United States, to its expansion across the globe at the time of the space race, and finally to the evolution of the contemporary planetarium in a time of startling astronomical and cosmological discoveries. This concise and well-illustrated history will appeal to astronomy lovers and those interested in architecture, theater, and cinema.
Contents
Missing Planet
1 Holy, Rough, Immediate
2 Planetary Projection
3 Red Star, White Star
4 Outer Paths
5 Visible, Invisible
Timeline of Principal Planetariums
Principal Planetariums of Architectural Interest
Further Reading
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Index
 
Review Quotes
Nature
"Star Theatre offers fascinating insights into how astronomy has, through planetariums, evolved over the past century from a tool for education and personal improvement to a crowd-pleasing public spectacle."
BBC Sky at Night Magazine
"A masterful and well-researched examination of the architectural heritage and cultural significance of planetariums, such as the role of the Zeiss projector in fostering relations between Soviet-controlled East Germany and the rest of the world. It also contemplates how the development of planetariums has been influenced—indeed, challenged—by discoveries in astronomy such as black holes, gravitational waves, and the theory of dark matter, as well as the growing capabilities of projection technology. . . . Excellent images."
Jonathan Meades
“Firebrace is at once keen dragoman, critic, poet, constantly astonished spectator, and informal reporter. His curiosity is boundless.”
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