London Planetarium

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The former Planetarium, showing Tussaud's branding

The building known as the London Planetarium is in Marylebone Road, London. It is adjacent to Madame Tussauds and is owned by the same company. It previously housed a planetarium, offering shows relating to space and astronomy. In 2006, it closed as a separate attraction and is now part of Madame Tussauds. From 2010, the building that once housed the London Planetarium houses the Marvel Super Heroes 4D attraction. The only planetarium in London is now the Peter Harrison Planetarium in Greenwich, south east London, which opened in 2007.[citation needed]


Closeup of a lens bearing sphere of a Zeiss Mark IV planetarium projector

The London Planetarium was opened by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh[1] on 19 March 1958,[2] with public presentations commencing on 20 March.[3] It occupied the site of an old cinema that was destroyed in the Second World War, and seated an audience of around 330 beneath a horizontal dome approximately 18m/60 ft in diameter. For its first five decades of operation, an opto-mechanical star projector, a Zeiss projector Mark IV,[4] offered the audience a show based on a view of the night sky as seen from earth. Between 1977 and 1990, evening laser performances called 'Laserium' (see Ivan Dryer) were held.

In 1995, one of the world's first digital planetarium systems, Digistar II was installed in a £4.5 million redevelopment, allowing monochromatic 3D journeys through space and many other kinds of show to be presented. The planetarium was used to teach students from University College London's astronomy department the complexity of the Celestial coordinate system, allowing for practical lectures delivered by a team of planetarium and UCL staff.

The Planetarium in 2006

In 2004, the Planetarium was upgraded to a full-colour Digistar 3 system that allows both pre-rendered and real-time shows to transport the audience in an immersive fulldome video environment to distant realms of time and space.

In January 2006, freelance journalist Paul Sutherland broke the news in the London Evening Standard that the London Planetarium was being renamed the Auditorium and would replace astronomical presentations with entertainment shows. Madame Tussauds subsequently announced that in July 2006 the Auditorium would open with a show by Aardman Animations about celebrities. To say 'farewell' to the planetarium, Madame Tussauds allowed free entry to the show in its penultimate week (24–30 April 2006).[citation needed]


Dr Henry C. King served as Scientific Director before opening and curating the McLaughlin Planetarium in Toronto, Canada.

John Ebdon, author, broadcaster and Grecophile was director of the London Planetarium (b. 1923 – d. 2005).[citation needed]


  1. ^ British Pathe news coverage. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  2. ^ Lieut.-Commander R.B. Michell, "The London Planetarium" on p. 323 Record on Cambridge Core website. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  3. ^ The Observatory, Vol. 78, p. 91(1958). Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  4. ^ "London Planetarium Guide" (PDF).[dead link]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′22″N 0°9′20″W / 51.52278°N 0.15556°W / 51.52278; -0.15556