Planetariums are multimedia places of extracurricular learning in which lifelike simulations of the stars and the universe are shown to vividly explain astronomy and related topics. Unlike in observatories, where the sky is observed by telescope, in a planetarium the simulated night sky is projected onto a curved ceiling. Regardless of time of day and the weather conditions, visitors can thus view the stars in a comfortable atmosphere. The movements of Sun, Moon and stars can be shown in fast motion, allowing the visitor to experience astronomical events on astronomical timescales within a few minutes.
Modern planetariums are no longer limited to the representation of the night sky. Using digital projection technology, current findings from astronomy and other sciences are presented at the dome. On a journey through space, visitors experience planets, stars and distant galaxies up close. Planetariums are also cultural institutions in which lectures, concerts and plays - often under the starry night sky - find a special stage.
In the context of school education, planetariums are an extraordinary place of learning, not just for astronomical content. Topics from the other natural sciences find their place here as well as practical experiments. Many planetariums offer both live moderated and fulldome shows, with audiences ranging from pre-schoolers to adults. Additionally, astronomy workshops or school projects are often offered in cooperation with a planetarium.
Planetariums are an important addition to school lessons, but they also offer excursion destinations on school trips.