Should the wide arc of sky above Salt Lake City not provide enough stellar spectacle, the Clark Planetarium will fill the bill. Daily star shows and nightly music/laser light programs attract different crowds, but other Planetarium exhibits, including a scale model of the solar system, bring the school groups together with the Pink Floyd aficionados. Clark Planetarium’s mission is to create and present enlightening experiences that inspire wonder in learning about space and science, and to promote greater public awareness of the science in our daily lives. 1964: Beatrice Hansen, the widow of George T. Hansen, pledges $400,000 to the Salt Lake City Library Board to preserve the Library Building at 15 S. State Street and convert it into a planetarium. Remember, America was in a “space race” and was enthusiastic for all things relating to space exploration. Nov. 26, 1965: Hansen Planetarium opens. It is the first planetarium in Utah. Residents come to love the Spitz Space Transit star projector, nicknamed “Jake” for the Spitz senior engineer who oversaw the installation of this amazing collection of optical-mechanical technology. 1978: Management of the planetarium is transferred from the Salt Lake City Library system to Salt Lake County. The building is leased by the city to the county for $1 a year. 1979: Hansen Planetarium receives state funding to provide statewide field trip and outreach education services to Utah schools. 1983: Hansen Planetarium installs one of the world’s first computer projection systems, the Evans & Sutherland “Digistar” system. 1996: Salt Lake County Commission transfers operation of the planetarium to the University of Utah Museum of Natural History. 2000: Salt Lake County Commission takes back operation of the planetarium in anticipation of transferring its management to the Children’s Museum of Utah, and locating both organizations at The Gateway. March 2001: Newly elected County Mayor Nancy Workman decides to keep county control of the planetarium. October 2001: The Salt Lake County Council approves a 15-year Sales Tax Anticipation Bond to generate $16.8 million for the construction of a new planetarium and IMAX theater at The Gateway. October 2002: The Clark Family Foundation donates $1 million for the acquisition of new exhibits at the planetarium and the name of the new facility becomes the Sheila M. Clark Planetarium. December 2002: Hansen Planetarium closes its doors to the public and begins the task of relocating to 110 S. 400 West. April 11, 2003: Clark Planetarium opens to the public. The first program to play in the Hansen Dome Theater (using the Evans & Sutherland Digistar 3 full-dome computer projection system) is “Ultimate Universe,” and the first film in the IMAX Theater is “Space Station 3D.” 2005: Larry H. Miller donates “Newton’s Daydream,” an audio-kinetic sculpture by renowned artist George Rhoads, to the planetarium. 2006: ATK Launch Systems enters into a 10-year, $1 million dollar sponsorship agreement with the planetarium for the planetarium’s 3-D IMAX Theater. 2008: Clark Planetarium installs 27 kilowatts of photovoltaic solar panels on its roof. After all, what better way to power a planetarium than with the light of a star? 2008: Clark Planetarium installs “Science on a Sphere” in its lobby. This is a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration hi-res computer projection system that creates a computer-animated 6-foot spherical display of the surfaces of other worlds and real-time animations of global weather patterns and other geophysical information. 2010: Clark Planetarium upgrades its 70mm IMAX film projectors to digital projection and enters into a revenue-sharing partnership with Megaplex Theaters for performances of commercial IMAX films. 2011: Clark Planetarium upgrades its dome theater equipment from the six-projector “Digistar 3” system to the brighter, sharper two-projector “Digistar 4” system. April 11, 2013: Clark Planetarium celebrates its first 10 years of operation. Underground parking is available in the Summer parking area. Clark Planetarium will validate parking for our patrons at the rate of 3 hours for $1.
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