London Planetarium

The building known as the London Planetarium is in Marylebone Road, London. It is adjacent to Madame Tussauds and is owned by the same company. A famous London landmark, it was once a notable tourist attraction, housing a planetarium, which offered shows relating to space and astronomy.

It closed in 2006 as a separate attraction and is now part of Madame Tussauds. From 2010 forward, the building that once housed the London Planetarium houses the Marvel Super Heroes 4D attraction.

The only planetarium in London is now the Peter Harrison Planetarium in Greenwich, south east London.

London Planetarium branded Tussauds
The former Planetarium, showing Tussaud's branding


In 1958 the London Planetarium was opened by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh[1] on 19 March,[2] with public presentations commencing on the 20th.[3] It occupied the site of an old cinema that was destroyed in the Second World War, and seated an audience of around 330 beneath a horizontal dome approximately 18 m in diameter. For its first five decades of operation, an opto-mechanical star projector, a Zeiss mark IV[4], offered the audience a show based on a view of the night sky as seen from earth. Between 1977 and 1990, evening laser performances called 'Laserium' (see Ivan Dryer) were held.

In 1995, one of the world's first digital planetarium systems, Digistar II (created by Evans & Sutherland) was installed in a £4.5 million redevelopment, allowing monochromatic 3D journeys through space and many other kinds of show to be presented. The planetarium was used to teach students from University College London's astronomy department the complexity of the Celestial co-ordinate system, allowing for practical lectures delivered by a team of planetarium and UCL staff.

London Planetarium
The Planetarium in 2006

In 2004, the Planetarium was upgraded to a full-colour Digistar 3 system that allows both pre-rendered and real-time shows to transport the audience in an immersive fulldome video environment to distant realms of time and space.

In January 2006, freelance journalist Paul Sutherland broke the news in the London Evening Standard that the London Planetarium was being renamed the Auditorium and would replace astronomical presentations with entertainment shows. Madame Tussauds subsequently announced that in July 2006 the Auditorium would open with a show by Aardman Animations about celebrities. To say 'farewell' to the planetarium, Madame Tussauds allowed free entry to the show in its penultimate, week (24–30 April 2006).


Dr Henry C. King served as Scientific Director before opening and curating the McLaughlin Planetarium in Toronto, Canada.

John Ebdon, author, broadcaster and Graecophile was director of the London Planetarium (b. 1923 – d. 2005).


The London Planetarium no longer exists and it is no longer possible to visit it as a separate attraction. The web site is redirected to Madame Tussauds and here is a statement from their web site:

"In 2006 the Planetarium was rebranded and renamed the Star Dome. The Star Dome is part of the Madame Tussauds attraction and is included in the ticket price. Please note that we no longer show astronomy-based shows"

From 2010 forward, the building that once housed the London Planetarium houses the Marvel Super Heroes 4D attraction.

See also


  1. ^ British Pathe news coverage. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  2. ^ Lieut.-Commander R.B. Michell, "The London Planetarium" on p. 323 Record on Cambridge Core website. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  3. ^ The Observatory, Vol. 78, p. 91(1958). Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  4. ^ "London Planetarium Guide" (PDF).

External links

Coordinates: 51°31′22″N 0°9′20″W / 51.52278°N 0.15556°W

1958 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1958 in the United Kingdom.

Back Again in the DHSS

Back Again in the DHSS is the second vinyl album by UK rock band Half Man Half Biscuit, released in 1987.The album was released after the band had split up, and comprised Peel Sessions along with some new songs.Some of the tracks were subsequently re-released on the compact disc ACD in 1989.

Brian Moore's Head Looks Uncannily Like London Planetarium

Brian Moore's Head Looks Uncannily Like London Planetarium was a fanzine devoted to Gillingham F.C.

It began life in 1988, and remarkably for a fanzine, which tend to have short publishing histories, ran for 18 years, with the final issue being published in April 2006. Stephen Foster ranked it top amongst football fanzines in his 2006 book The Book Of Lists Football. In the mid-1990s the fanzine began to insert celebrity pictures sent in by readers in order to break up the text. Images of Rolf Harris and Clare Grogan recurred the most.Some fans believed the "BMH" could generally be relied upon to take the most pessimistic and cynical view possible, although this became increasingly difficult during the early years of the tenure of Paul Scally as chairman, as the club recovered from receivership and near losing of its League place to ascend to previously undreamed of heights: by season 2005–06, after relegation and financial difficulties in the club, the chairman has ceased to be considered beyond criticism.

The fanzine gained a reputation as "one of the best and most popular fanzines ever made", with the name attracting comment for its quirky nature.It took its title from a line in the Half Man Half Biscuit song Dickie Davies Eyes. Brian Moore was formerly a director of the club, and in the absence of any other notable supporters it was decided to honour him in the title.The fanzine was relaunched online, where the traditional irreverent match reports and editorial continued on their new Brian Moore's Head blog, however there have been no updates to the site since 2008.

Brian Moore (commentator)

Brian Baden Moore (28 February 1932 – 1 September 2001) was an English sports commentator and television presenter who covered nine World Cups and more than 20 Cup finals.

Chamber of Horrors (Madame Tussauds)

The Chamber of Horrors was one of the attractions at Madame Tussauds in London, being an exhibition of waxworks of notorious murderers and other infamous historical figures. The gallery first opened as a 'Separate Room' in Marie Tussaud's 1802 exhibition in London and quickly became a success as it showed historical personalities and artifacts rather than the freaks of nature popular in other waxworks of the day. It closed permanently in April 2016.

Deaths in March 2005

The following is a list of notable people who died in March 2005.

Gillingham F.C.

Gillingham Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Gillingham, Kent, England. The only Kent-based club in the Football League, the "Gills" play their home matches at the Priestfield Stadium. The team competes in League One, the third tier of the English football league system.

The club was founded in 1893 and joined the Football League in 1920. They were voted out of the league in favour of Ipswich Town at the end of the 1937–38 season, but returned to it 12 years later after it was expanded from 88 to 92 clubs. Twice in the late 1980s they came close to winning promotion to the second tier of English football, but a decline then set in and in 1993 they narrowly avoided relegation to the Football Conference. Between 2000 and 2005, Gillingham were in the second tier of the English football league system for the only time in their history, achieving a club record highest league finish of eleventh place in 2002–03.

Henry C. King

Henry C. King (9 March, 1915 - 30 July, 2005) was an astronomer and writer.

He was born in London, but the family later moved to Marlow, Buckinghamshire where Henry attended the Sir William Borlase School. For his thirteenth birthday, his father gave him a copy of The Story of The Heavens by Robert S Ball. Another move took the family to Slough in the late 1930s. Here Henry contacted Lady Constance Lubbock, William Herschel's grand-daughter, and was able to access the Herschel Library.

He obtained a B.Sc. in astronomy and mathematics by correspondence, from the University of London, and subsequently, an MSc and Ph.D on the history and philosophy of science.

During World War II he was Inspector of Aeronautical Instruments for the Ministry of Aircraft Production at Ruislip. In the 1950s he was Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmic Optics at Northampton College of Advanced Technology, (now City, University of London). In 1956, he became the first Scientific Director of the London Planetarium. Ten years later, he became Director of the McLaughlin Planetarium, Toronto. He was President of the British Astronomical Association from 1958-60.

Ian Ridpath

Ian William Ridpath (born 1 May 1947, Ilford, Essex) is an English science writer and broadcaster best known as a popularizer of astronomy and a biographer of constellation history. As a UFO sceptic, he investigated and explained the Rendlesham Forest Incident of December 1980.

John Ebdon

John Ebdon (1923–2005) was a British author, broadcaster, Graecophile and, for 21 years, director of the London Planetarium. He was born on 22 December 1923, educated at Blundell's School and died in March 2005. On his death, obituaries appeared in the Times, Independent, Guardian and Telegraph newspapers and on the BBC.Ebdon presented Archive Feature on the Home Service and Radio 4 from 1961 to 1987. He also presented the archive-based Nonsense at Noon on the Home Service, 1965-66. "His facetious patrician tones every third Monday morning, his sense of the absurd, his ear for a word mistakenly taken out of context, his famous cat Perseus, delighted much of middle England as much as it infuriated a small minority."--Glyn Worsnip.

Lisson Grove

Lisson Grove is a district and a street of the City of Westminster, London, just to the north of the city ring road. There are many landmarks surrounding the area. To the north is Lord's Cricket Ground in St John's Wood. To the west are Little Venice, Paddington and Watling Street. To the north east is Primrose Hill and south east is Marylebone, which includes the railway station and Dorset Square, the original home of the Marylebone Cricket Club. It is west of the London Planetarium, Madame Tussaud's, Baker Street and Regent's Park. The postal districts are NW1 and NW8.

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds (UK: , US: ) is a wax museum in London with smaller museums in a number of other major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. It used to be known as "Madame Tussaud's"; the apostrophe is no longer used. Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying the waxworks of famous and historic people and also popular film characters.

Mark Jenkins (musician)

Mark Jenkins (born 1960, Wales) is a British musician and music writer. He has done articles for UK and international magazines including Melody Maker, New Musical Express, Music Week, International Musician, Keyboard (US), and Mac Format, and has also written a book on the subject called Analog Synthesizers.

Jenkins studied at BA Arts course at university; he worked in the university television and electronic music studios to create his first live performances. Graduating with a BA Honours degree, he became Music Editor of the magazine Electronics & Music Maker. Working on other publications where he interviewed artists including Philip Glass, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, he gave further performances at London Olympia, the London Planetarium and the Royal Festival Hall among other venues.

Jenkins formed the label AMP Music in 1983. He has performed with David Vorhaus as White Noise at venues including the Bochum Planetarium, Germany, and the All Tomorrow's Parties festival. He also performed at the Peter Harrison Planetarium at The Royal Observatory in 2009. In 2012 Taylor & Francis published a new book by Jenkins, "iPad Music". He currently lives in London.

Mark Sutton Vane

Mark Sutton Vane is an English architectural lighting designer.

Vane was born in London, England, and studied architecture at the University of Westminster. He then started work at the Laserium in the London Planetarium. Here he used a visual synthesiser to perform laser light shows to music. He created new shows for the public and private shows for musicians such as Kate Bush and Jean Michel Jarre.

In 1989, Vane moved into architectural lighting design. He worked for two lighting design practices before starting Sutton Vane Associates in 1995. Sutton Vane Associates has grown to become a respected lighting design practice. It has lit churches, cathedrals, retail environments, commercial projects, leisure attractions, offices and hotels all over the world. Sutton Vane wrote the initial lighting strategy for the Park and Public Realm Aspects of the 2012 Olympics, and regeneration schemes in Portsmouth and Liverpool. The practice lit HMS Victory; National Museum of Ireland; National Museum of Saudi Arabia; “The First Emperor - China’s terracotta army” at the British Museum; The Roundhouse and Sheffield’s Sheaf Square.

Examples of the practice's emphasis on sustainable lighting include its scheme for the Museum of Country Life in Ireland. Sutton Vane was the lighting consultant for the London Eye and in 2001 lit St Paul's Cathedral in red light for World Aids Day, featured on the front cover of The Lit Environment by Derek Philips.

Light magazine ranked Sutton Vane Associates as one of the top 10 UK architectural lighting consultancies and ranked both Portsmouth and Liverpool in its top 10 best-lit cities. The practice has won many awards including:

2008 — Lighting Design Awards: Llandaff Cathedral. Winner. Heritage.

2008 — Lighting Design Awards: The First Emperor, China’s Terracotta Warriors. Shortlisted.

2005 — The Lighting Design Awards: Athlone Civic Offices. Winner. Exterior Lighting.

2005 — Local Government News: Liverpool City Centre Lighting. Winner, Public Lighting Award.

2005 — Local Government News: Queens Gardens, Warrington. Runner Up, Public Lighting Award.

2002 — The Lighting Design Awards: Portsmouth Harbour Renaissance. Winner, Community Lighting.

2000 — Design Sense: The Tsola light. Shortlisted.

2000 — Millennium Product]: The Tsola light.Sutton Vane has lectured at ARC 07, Cityscape 2008 Conference, Euroluce and Milan 2007. He also writes articles and gives classes on lighting design all over the world.

Mark Sutton Vane is a grandson of Sutton Vane, the noted playwright.

Peter Harrison Planetarium

The Peter Harrison Planetarium is a 120-seat digital laser planetarium, situated in Greenwich Park, London and is part of the National Maritime Museum. It opened on 25 May 2007.The planetarium uses Digistar 3 software with blue, red and green lasers and grating light valve (GLV) technology to create a 4,000 pixel strip. This strip is swept to produce a 5,000 by 4,000 pixel image, refreshed 60 times per second. The image is projected through a fisheye lens onto the dome of the planetarium.This planetarium is housed inside a 45-ton bronze-clad truncated cone, with the north side tilted at 51.5o to the horizontal (the latitude of Greenwich), the south side pointing at the local Zenith (i.e. at 90 degrees to the local horizon) and the top being slanted to be parallel to the celestial equator. The construction stands parallel to (but 50 metres east of) the prime meridian. It was conceived under the then Director, Roy Clare CBE, as the centrepiece of the "Time and Space" project, a £17.7m re-development of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and funded with a £3.25m grant from the Peter Harrison Foundation.

Richard Harris (composer)

Richard Frank Keith Harris (born 5 March 1968) is a London-based composer, arranger, transcriber, teacher and pianist.

Richard Harris studied composition and orchestration at the University of Edinburgh, where his tutors included Kenneth Leighton. At Edinburgh he co-founded the contemporary classical ensemble Piano Circus, with whom he was a member until 2002, commissioning and performing works by Arvo Pärt, Brian Eno, Philip Glass and Steve Reich. The ensemble was signed to Decca/Argo, producing five CDs. Compositions by Harris feature on the Argo CD Loopholes, and in full on the ensemble's own CD Landscapes Of The Heart; he also produced successful arrangements of works by Terry Riley and Thomas Ades. His work Hexada was featured in the UK television programme The Score.

In 1992 Harris began teaching piano, theory and A-level music at Westminster School, where he himself had been a pupil.

In 1994 Harris became a published author with Faber Music, and in 1997 was chosen by the film composer Carl Davis to be his personal music arranger. Harris's books range from his own compositions and educational tutors to film, jazz and pop arrangements, and include collaborations with Evelyn Glennie and Joanna MacGregor.

In 1999 Harris's arrangement of Terry Riley's Keyboard Study No.2 was chosen by Pete Townshend as the supporting music for Townshend's Lifehouse concert at Sadler's Wells.

In 2000, Piano Circus collaborated with the German composer Heiner Goebbels, and the resulting piece Scutigeras, entirely written by Harris and based on Goebbels' existing works, received a live premiere on BBC radio.

In 2004, Harris composed the music to Warriors, a successful show at the London Planetarium.

In 2005, Harris created a website allowing users to request personalised sheet music, in the form of bespoke arrangements and transcriptions. The site has featured in many newspapers and magazines, including The Daily Telegraph and Classical Music Magazine.

In 2009, Harris composed a big band piece for the Cardinal Vaughan Big Band entitled 'Addison Blues', which gave its world premiere performance at St. John's, Smith Square Concert Hall, for a concert in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Harris also gives lectures with author Rob Eastaway entitled Numbers and Rumbas, exploring the relationship between mathematics and music.

The Dark Side of the Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon is the eighth studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd, released on 1 March 1973 by Harvest Records. It built on ideas explored in Pink Floyd's earlier recordings and performances, but without the extended instrumentals that characterised their earlier work. A concept album, its themes explore conflict, greed, time, and mental illness, the latter partly inspired by the deteriorating health of founding member Syd Barrett, who left in 1968.

Developed during live performances, Pink Floyd premiered an early version of The Dark Side of the Moon several months before recording began. New material was recorded in two sessions in 1972 and 1973 at Abbey Road Studios in London. The group used advanced recording techniques at the time, including multitrack recording and tape loops; analogue synthesizers are prominent, and snippets from interviews with Pink Floyd's road crew and others provide philosophical quotations. Engineer Alan Parsons was responsible for many sonic aspects and the recruitment of singer Clare Torry, who appears on "The Great Gig in the Sky". The iconic sleeve was designed by Storm Thorgerson; following keyboardist Richard Wright's request for a "simple and bold" design, it depicts a prism spectrum, representing the band's lighting and the record's themes.

The Dark Side of the Moon produced two singles: "Money" and "Us and Them". The album topped the Billboard chart for a week, and remained on the chart for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. Following a change in how Billboard counts sales in 2009, it re-entered the chart and has since appeared for over 900 weeks.

With estimated sales of over 45 million copies, it is Pink Floyd's bestselling album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. It has been remastered and re-released several times, and covered in its entirety by several acts. It is regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time.

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark is a children's book by Jill Tomlinson, of which there is also an audio version read by Maureen Lipman. It was published in 1968, illustrated by Joanne Cole, and an abridged edition illustrated by Paul Howard published in 2001.The story is about a young barn owl called Plop, who is frightened of the dark. The plot is divided into seven chapters, each covering a night during which Plop learns something new about the dark: dark is exciting, dark is kind, dark is fun, dark is necessary, dark is fascinating, dark is wonderful and dark is beautiful. Plop is gradually persuaded that the dark has its advantages.

The book shows what constellations are, especially Orion's belt, and has been adapted as a show at the London Planetarium. There have been stage adaptations of the book by Simon Reade and Tina WilliamsThe book has been recommended by clinicians for treatment of fear of the dark.

Warren Cann

Warren Reginald Cann (born 20 May 1950 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) is a Canadian drummer and drum machine programmer, best known as a member of the British new wave band Ultravox.

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