About Us

The Downing Planetarium

Star Theater

has a 74-seat star theater with a 30-foot dome. The planetarium shows are run with a Minolta MS-8 star projector, two video projectors, and 36 slide projectors all controlled by a computer program. The star projector shown on the right was newly installed in October, 2000.

The Lobby

the lobby

As you enter the Downing Planetarium building, you will be greeted by 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.

The Downing Planetarium Gift Shop

gift shop

The hallway from the lobby then leads to the gift shop. In the gift shop, you will find posters, T-shirts, bookmarks, and all kinds of science toys.

Downing Planetarium Museum

The Downing Planetarium Museum is now open for school field trips, and will soon be open to the public on selected weekends. The museum is located directly behind the Downing Planetarium, and consists of hands-on astronomy and physics exhibits. For a complete list of exhibits, click here.



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

Ground Breaking

ground breaking

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.

Please follow the link to the photo album.

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 also look at nice animations of some phases of the construction

Grand Opening

grand opening

So far we have had over 72,000 visitors as of November 14, 2002.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"