New Toronto Planetarium

A New Toronto Planetarium

A New Toronto Planetarium


Rendering of the Miami Planetarium

Rendering of the new planetarium at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami. The exterior of the planetarium lights up to display a changing menu of celestial sights to passers-by.  (Credit: Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science)

The University of Toronto plans to  build a new world-class planetarium on its downtown St. George campus as part of the New Astronomy Building.  The planetarium will feature a 200-seat dome that will use the latest digital projection technologies to give UofT students and members of the community unrivalled access to the cosmos.

Innovative public science

The new UofT Planetarium will be a focal point for innovative public education. With a new dome and a state-of-the-art projection system, we’ll be able to welcome tens of thousands of guests a year, becoming a new tourist and cultural centrepiece for the city.

A world-class teaching space and a public planetarium

The new UofT Planetarium will be a world-class teaching facility. Our new 200-seat dome will make it possible to run entire courses in the planetarium. Every student taking astronomy classes on campus will be able to explore the cosmos in real-time, using the beautiful and scientifically accurate models enabled by digital projection technologies.

Photo of people using World Wide Telescope

Modern digital projection technologies, such as World Wide Telescope, enable exploration of the entire cosmos in real time, using data from real telescopes and space probes. (Credit: http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/)


An architectural landmark

The new UofT Planetarium will be an architecturally distinctive Toronto landmark. Modern planetariums are known for daring architectural designs. The planetarium at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain resembles a colossal eye, connoting an openness to new knowledge and perspectives. At the Nagoya City Science Museum in Japan, the largest planetarium in the world hovers in mid-air over a pedestrian walkway. The Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City is known for its dramatic design, in which the sphere of the planetarium hovers above the museum floor, serving as the Sun in a scale model of the solar system.

Unparalleled scientific visualization

The new UofT Planetarium will be an incredible space for collaborative scientific visualization. Modern digital planetariums are used for far more than just astronomy, from visualizing climate data to exploring the interior of the human brain. The new UofT Planetarium will be accessible to scientists, engineers, artists, and indigenous leaders to pursue research, educational, and cultural activities.


Photo of Valencia Planetarium

Photo of the Hemisfèric planetarium at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain (Credit: cac.es)


Photo of the Hayden Planetarium

The Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City represents the Sun in a scale model of the solar system. Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the foreground (Credit: Alfred Gracombe)

Hayden Planetarium Space Show: Dark Universe

A computer simulation showing the cosmic web of dark matter. Courtesy AMNH/Denis Finnin

Why does Toronto need a public planetarium?

Planetariums not only provide ready access to detailed recreations of the night sky, they allow us to visualize any part of the cosmos in stunning detail–something we can’t do even with a powerful telescope at a dark site. Big cities are great places to live, but they’re bad for seeing the night sky. Light pollution and poor weather make the wonders of the night sky inaccessible to most urban dwellers.

Toronto is the largest metropolitan area in North America not served by a large public planetarium. All cities of comparable size any many smaller ones have city-scale planetariums. Around the world, few highly developed cities of the size of Toronto lack a large public planetarium. Since the McLaughlin Planetarium closed in 1995, Toronto has been without one. We aim to bring a major planetarium back to the city.

Here is a list of full-dome planetariums in Canada and around the world:  https://www.lochnessproductions.com/lfco/lfco.html

Building Plan

The New Toronto Planetarium will be part of the New Astronomy Building which the University of Toronto plans to build. The likely site is the 50 St George Street site of the current Astronomy Building. The new building will be much larger the current building, providing space to bring together faculty and students that are currently spread over several buildings, along with new labs and modern teaching spaces.

The planetarium will be a major element of the building and publicly accessible. A unique feature is that many of our shows will draw on the expertise of PhD level graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for presentations.

Status and Fund Raising

The planning for the New Astronomy Building and the Planetarium are at an early stage. The University has approved the concept of a new building with a planetarium.  Funds have been allocated for design work which is expected to take about two years. The design work will identify issues in constructing in a dense urban space, lead to exciting conceptual design, and provide a cost estimate.

To completely realize the vision of a New Toronto Planetarium will require public support and fund raising.
The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto has for more than 100 years helped support public interest in Astronomy and the exploration of the Universe within an academic program that emphasizes scientific excellence. We in turn have enjoyed great support from the citizens and governments of Toronto, Ontario and Canada. We look forward to renewing our commitment with the New Toronto Planetarium.

For more information:

contact chair@astro.utoronto.ca