Planetarium celebrates half a century as SF State’s direct connection to the universe

Author: Kanaga Rajan
February 20, 2024
A dark planetarium with the star projector shining stars across the domed ceiling
Photo Credit: Juan Montes

New funds will help the Charles F. Hagar planetarium continue its 50-year legacy as a beacon of education and community

“When we dim the lights and the stars come on, you can just hear the gasps all through the room,” said Physics & Astronomy undergraduate Sergio Lopez of the public planetarium shows he presents in Spanish at San Francisco State University’s Charles F. Hagar Planetarium. “I think that’s my favorite part.”

Students like Lopez are carrying on and evolving the legacy started by astronomy professor Charles Hagar when he designed the planetarium (and observatory) in 1973.

The planetarium was recently awarded $1.5 million to refurbish the facility from the Heising-Simons Foundation. The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation that works with its partners to advance sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, enable groundbreaking research in science, enhance the education of our youngest learners, and support human rights for all people. The fortuitous timing of the award — which coincides with the planetarium’s 50th anniversary — didn’t go unnoticed by Planetarium and Observatory Director Adrienne Cool.

“It’s no small feat for this planetarium to have been able to do what it does for 50 years,” she said.

Physics & Astronomy students take classes there, but it also offers free shows to anyone, including the public.

“We’re proud of the fact that this planetarium has provided a training ground and a community for so many people, and that so many have gone on to become science educators in the Bay Area and beyond,” Cool said.

Read the full story at SF State News.