ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Center Officially Opens

ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre

ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Center. This spectacular evening picture, taken a few days before the opening, shows a conjunction of the planet Venus and the young crescent Moon in the background. Credit: ESO/P. Horálek

On 26 April 2018, the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Center was officially inaugurated, and opened the doors to the public on 28 April 2018. The center, located at ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany provides visitors with an immersive experience of astronomy in general, along with ESO-specific scientific results, projects, and technological breakthroughs. All activities in the ESO Supernova will be free of charge during 2018, and shows and other events can be booked online.

The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Center is a cooperation between the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). The building is a donation from the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), a foundation that promotes natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. ESO will run the facility.

The striking building was designed by the architects Bernhardt + Partner. It resembles a close binary star system with one star transferring mass to its companion. This leads to the heavier star exploding as a supernova, briefly shining as bright as all the stars in a galaxy combined. The centre — aptly named the ESO Supernova — similarly shines brightly, to generate enthusiasm and passion for astronomy in the young and not-so-young alike.


Time-lapse of the construction of the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre in Garching near Munich in Germany.

At the heart of the ESO Supernova is a digital planetarium that offers an immersive experience through the use of state-of-the-art visualisation techniques. The planetarium screens many different shows and other cultural events. Visitors between April and June 2018 can pick from eight planetarium shows, ranging from the award-winning The Secrets of Gravity animated film about Albert Einstein’s discoveries to the giant-screen documentary adventure Hidden Universe.

For school classes, the ESO Supernova also offers two specially designed planetarium shows — A Tour of the Solar System and The Skies Above Us — and six workshops specially tailored to the curriculum. The program for visitor groups is aimed at children in kindergarten, primary school and all secondary schools. For teachers, the ESO Supernova offers special teacher training.

The ESO Supernova also hosts an interactive astronomical exhibition where visitors can explore and examine real astronomical artefacts and conduct experiments to get an idea of what it means to be an astronomer, to work in science, and to discover the mysteries of the Universe. The first permanent exhibition is The Living Universe, which covers the broad topic of life in the Universe.


On 26 April 2018, the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre was officially inaugurated, and its doors will be open to the public from tomorrow 28 April 2018. The centre, located at ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany provides visitors with an immersive experience of astronomy in general, along with ESO-specific scientific results, projects, and technological breakthroughs. All activities in the ESO Supernova will be free of charge during 2018, and shows and other events can be booked online.

Highlights include: a 40-meter image of the night sky (arguably the largest in the world), a meteorite and a mirror segment from the future Extremely Large Telescope that visitors can touch, a hands-on station where visitors can build their own telescope and athletic visitors can even take a ride on a bicycle that travels at the speed of light! The exhibition can be experienced independently or as part of a guided tour.

The seminar rooms on the top floor house space for lectures, workshops and conferences, while The Void on the ground floor is a central area with a unique and beautiful star-roof.

The ESO Supernova will be open each week between 9:00 and 17:00, Wednesdays to Fridays, and between 12:00 and 17:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Free tickets can be booked online and printed out after arrival at the centre.

All content is provided in both English and German and is completely free of charge in 2018. More information, including the programme and details about planning a visit, are available on the ESO Supernova website.


In this animation we break free from the ESO Supernova, rise above Garching, and then Munich and the Earth itself. The viewer accelerates out of the Solar System and then the Milky Way, finally revealing vast numbers of galaxies.

Visitors can sign up for the Public Newsletter and follow @ESOSupernovaDE in German on Facebook and/or Twitter, or @ESOSupernova in English on Facebook and/or Twitter. Media representatives can also sign up to receive news here, while educators have the option to receive a dedicated Education Newsletter.

Donations for and partnerships with the ESO Supernova are welcome. The spaces are also available for rent.

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