New Free Planetarium Products from ESO

1 september 2016

As the construction of the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre here in Garching continues apace, ready for its opening in late 2017, ESO continues to make an unprecedented range of high-quality materials available for use in planetariums, produced by world-renowned astrophotographers, artists, technicians and musicians.

Both the mission and vision of the ESO Supernova emphasise the creation of connections and learning experiences for both scientists and the general public; in keeping with this, and with ESO’s ethos in general, all of these planetarium products are available for free. Quality comes before quantity, but thanks to the dedicated work of both our team and the planetarium community at large, we are able to offer both.

The full range of free material for planetariums is available on the ESO Supernova website. This comprises:

  1. Almost 400 fulldome clips in ESO’s and ESA/Hubble’s archives. These include more than 100 Ultrafast Time-lapse videos by the young Greek filmmaker Theofanis N. Matsopoulos. These daytime 4k fulldome videos solve the long-standing problem of how to produce them without expensive and complex equipment. There are also more than 125 Fulldome stills showing many of ESO’s telescopes and buildings.

  2. Over 250 stunning 360-degree equirectangular panoramas, many of which are full 360 x 180 degree panoramas. These can also be used with Virtual Reality (VR) glasses like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Google Cardboard.

  3. Full planetarium shows.

    1. ESO is extremely proud to present From Earth to the Universe v2, an improved and updated version of the full-length show directed by Matsopoulos. It takes the viewer on a journey of celestial discovery, from the early theories of the ancient Greek astronomers to a look at today’s most impressive telescopes. Version 2 features: improved image quality; higher resolution star maps; new video footage of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) courtesy of the fulldome expedition; a new 3D model of the Milky Way and much more!

    2. A new full-length show also directed by Matsopoulos has just been released: The Hot and Energetic Universe, which delves into the natural phenomena related to high energy astrophysics, a key field of research in astronomy.
      The planetarium and artistic communities at large have contributed several other full-length planetarium shows:

    3. Two Small Pieces of Glass; where two students learn the history of the telescope — from Galileo’s modifications to a child’s spyglass to the launch of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The show was made by Interstellar Studios the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i and Carnegie Science Center for the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

    4. Dark: The Movie; which explains and explores the nature of Dark Matter, the invisible 80% of the mass of the Universe. Dark was funded jointly by iVEC, Scitech and iVEC@UWA, and was directed by Peter Morse.

    5. Sunstruck; which explores how the Sun came to support life on Earth, how it threatens life as we know it, and how its energy will one day fade away. This NASA funded fulldome planetarium show was created at the Michigan Science Center.

    6. The Dark Matter Mystery; which addresses the question of what holds the universe together. What, in fact, are the constituents of the so called Dark Matter?
      This show was made by Laupheim Planetarium.

    7. Distant Worlds - Alien Life? (Originally “Ferne Welten - Fremdes Leben?”); a film exploring one of the most enduring questions in astronomy — are we alone? This fulldome film was produced by a consortium of German planetariums. The show was directed by Björn Voß from Münster Planetarium.

    8. Sentient; an artistic work by students of the Art and Science Immersive Media class in the Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM) department at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. This is an immersive experience which investigates the creative, perceptive, and unexplored mind. Credit goes to students from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

    9. The Unknown Between; an artistic work by students of the Art and Science Immersive Media class in the Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM) department at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. This is an immersive experience which explores the moment between wakefulness and sleep. Credit goes to students from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

  4. A new music archive with almost 300 free music tracks composed by ESO Music Ambassadors Jennifer Galatis, Johan B. Monell, tonelabs, John Dyson and Steve Buick; and additional artists including STAN DART and zero-project. Sources of inspiration for their music include ESO’s telescopes, the Chilean night sky, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Earth seen from space, and ESA’s Rosetta mission.

  5. Our talented artists have produced beautiful image compositions for museums, images and videos for exhibition use in spectacular high resolution — up to 20 000 pixels. These will make up part of the ESO Supernova Living Universe Exhibition.

  6. Fulldome clips for Video Jockey-ing (VJ) use. These videos, created by Mike Winkelmann (beeple) and converted by ESO, provide a visual feast of colour and design, and can be used to profoundly enrich the audience’s experience at music events held in planetariums.

  7. 3D models of everything from ESO telescopes to orbits within the Milky Way.

  8. Planetarium research papers on issues relevant to the planetarium community which can be freely downloaded. Planetarium community white papers.

We are confident that this collection will contribute to the continued success of the planetarium community which we at ESO Supernova are so proud and excited to be a part of. If you in turn want to help sustain a continued production of free resources for planetariums and keep the ESO Supernova free you can:

  1. Make a donation

  2. Email to contribute a translation in your language

  3. Or let us know on our social media if you have made use of any of our products!

More Information

The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre

The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre is a cutting-edge astronomy centre for the public and an educational facility, located at the site of the ESO Headquarters in Garching bei München. The centre hosts the largest tilted planetarium in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and an interactive exhibition, sharing the fascinating world of astronomy and ESO to inspire coming generations to appreciate and understand the Universe around us. All content is provided in English and German and entrance is free, but requires prior booking. For more details visit:

The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre is a cooperation between the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). The building is a donation from the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), a German foundation, and ESO runs the facility.

ESO Supernova is proudly supported by: Evans & Sutherland.


The Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS) was created in 1995 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940 – 2015). It is one of Europe’s largest privately funded non-profit foundations. The Foundation promotes the advancement of the natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science, and strives to raise appreciation for these fields. The Foundation’s commitment begins in kindergarten and continue in schools, universities, and research facilities. The Foundation champions new methods of scientific knowledge transfer, and supports both development and intelligible presentation of research findings. The ESO Supernova is a donation from the KTS, and ESO will run the facility.


The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS gGmbH) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing large amounts of data. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.


ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Czechia, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.



Tania Johnston
ESO Supernova Coordinator
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 061 30
Cell: +49 170 867 5293

Oana Sandu
Community Coordinator & Communication Strategy Officer
Tel: +49 89 320 069 65

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