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Downing Planetarium

About Us


The Downing Planetarium

Star Theater

The Planetarium has a 74-seat star theater with a 30-foot dome. The planetarium shows are run with a Minolta MS-10 star projector and a full dome hemispherical mirror projection system which covers the entire dome with a movie. The full dome system was installed in the summer of 2013. In addition, we can still run any of the more than 30 programs in our traditional format show library. The traditional format uses 36 slide projectors and a video projector controlled by a single computer running the JHE automation system.


The Lobby

the lobby

The Downing Planetarium features a spacious lobby.  On the front side, you will find the donor wall, a photograph of comet Hale-Bopp, a solar system scale and an elements scale, a gravity well, and a sundial. On the other side are display cases with science toys and meteorites and entrance to the star theater

At the top of the picture is one of the murals painted by Lynette Cook in July 2002.


Little Dipper Gift Shop

gift shop

In our gift shop, you will find posters, T-shirts, bookmarks, and all kinds of science toys.




Downing Planetarium Museum

The Downing Planetarium Museum is available for school field trips. The museum is located directly behind the Downing Planetarium, and consists of hands-on astronomy and physics exhibits. 



The Downing Planetarium is a non-profit organization which relies on donations to help support our educational work. To make a donation to the Downing Planetarium, please contact Dr. Steven White by phone at (559)278-4020


Ground BreakingSpeakers at a podium

The ground breaking ceremony for the Downing Planetarium was held on 3/21/99. We had a lecture by Dr. Barbara Neuhauser and telescopes provided by the Central Valley Astronomers for viewing the sun.

Shown in the picture are (from left to right) President John Welty, Dr. Harold Downing, and Dr. Tom Downing.


Construction of the Planetarium


To see the construction of the Downing Planetarium from start to finish, please take a look at our archives by Dr. David Zellmer.

Please follow the link to the photo album.


Grand Opening

grand opening

The grand opening ceremony for the Downing Planetarium was held on 4/8/00. The public weekend shows started on 5/19/00.


Display at AAS Meeting

display at aas meeting

We had a display about the Downing Planetarium at the 198th meeting of AAS (American Astronomical Society) held in Pasadena, CA in June of 2001. It was entitled

"The Downing Planetarium: A New Astronomy Education Resource for Fresno, CA"

Here is the abstract at the AAS web site.