The planetarium is located in room 422, Thornton Hall, College of Science & Engineering. It opened in January 1973 and consists of a Spitz Space Systems 512 planetarium projector housed in a 26.5 ft (8.1 meter) dome. The projection system in the planetarium is capable of showing 1,354 stars, the sun, moon, and planets.
In addition, the facility has a panorama (360 deg.) projection system with an 80 scene capability plus numerous special effects projectors such as: rotating galaxy, aurora projectors, solar system projector (orrery), earth-globe projector, twin rear-screen projectors, meteor shower, evolving star, solar and lunar eclipse projector, satellite projector, 12 spot projectors, slew mirror systems, etc.
The SFSU Planetarium has, from its opening in 1973 been used up to 40 hours per week in the following categories.:
- Astronomy 116 laboratories: Up to 12 sections of 25 students each attend laboratory sessions in the planetarium each week. These laboratory sections are usually taught by graduate students. The students that take Astr. 116 are non-science students meeting their General Education Science requirements.
- A planetarium training program (meeting 3 hrs/week) is held in the planetarium and trains students in planetarium operation, educational techniques, and show production.
- The planetarium often presents Public Shows for the campus and the surrounding community. Admission is free. Though, we graciously accept donations. The show titles change and cover relevant new discoveries in astronomy. These shows are often prepared and presented by staff and graduate students.
- The planetarium also presents programs for visiting schools from the surrounding community. These programs are presented free. Programs typically run 55 minutes and cover such topics as the current night sky, legends of the stars, planets, and current space missions. The programs are presented by the planetarium curator.