Friesland home to world’s oldest working planetarium

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250px-Franeker,_Planetarium

Since the BBC has decided to talk about it, and many people have never heard of it, let’s tell you about the Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium, the world’s oldest working planetarium or orrery, located in Franeker, Friesland.

Built from 1774 to 1781 by Eise Eisinga, it is a national monument, a “Baroque theatre for stargazers, crowning the living room of a modest wool comber who lived shortly after the Dutch Golden Age and an unfathomable undertaking considering Eisinga quit school aged 12”. Not only did the project take seven years to complete, but it nearly bankrupt him as well.

The amateur astronomer captured the universe in his living room, and the science behind it is still precise today. It is a working model of the solar system accurate for the time it was made, although Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (today a dwarf planet) are missing, as they hadn’t been discovered back then.

The film below is in Frisian and some commentary is in Dutch. You can see the old and new parts of the planetarium, as they eventually expanded having bought up neighbouring houses.

(Link: bbc.com, Photo of Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium by Bouwe Brouwer, some rights reserved)

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