John R. Gernert Star Ball Exhibit

February 9, 7-7:45 PM

Picture showing retired star ball operating in dome.When the Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium opened in 2001, the opto-mechanical star machine was state-of-the-art technology, projecting the night sky, stars, planets and moons with crisp precision. The ball itself had over 4,000 tiny holes for light to shine through, accurately reflecting the night sky. Separate geared controls cast the planets and moons on the dome. With the advent of digital technology, the star ball machine was retired in 2013 and replaced by a Spitz digital SciDome which is able to do all of the functions of the previous star machine plus much more.

The John R. Gernert Star Ball exhibit allows visitors an up-close view of the amazingly complex star ball machine and the Image shows how planet clocks were controlled.console that controlled it. This celebration includes a virtual journey in the planetarium dome that highlights features of the original star machine as well as some of the features gained with the digital SciDome. 

Note: This event is free and open to the public. Click here for directions. Free parking is available for this event on a first-come, first served basis in the visitor lot by the planetarium and the red lot across from the planetarium (next to the School of Music - no permit required. Click here for a campus map.





John R. Gernert (b. 1926 in Louisville) is a lifelong educator, learner, and lover of astrophysics.
He and his sons Rudy, Rob and Reed are proud to sponsor the  Star Ball Exhibit.