The planetarium at Luther College was part of the original plans for the new Valders Hall of Science. The new planetarium was installed in 1964, about one year after the completion of the science building. The planetarium projector, control panel, domed ceiling, lighting, and circular seating were purchased from (at a cost of about $35,000) and installed by Spitz Space Systems of Chadds Ford, PA. The projector is the Spitz Model A3P projector that originally came with an incandescent light source. About five hundred of the Spitz A3P projectors were manufactured and the vast majority of them are still in service according to the Spitz technician who has been at Luther to service the projector.
In 1980, the light source was upgraded to a 20-watt xenon arc lamp that was much brighter. This, however, required the replacement of over 120 star cell lenses to achieve the correct focus on the star images. The planetarium will seat 65 adults in a circular arrangement. The majority of the shows given in the planetarium are for public groups who make reservations. All shows are "live" which facilitates interaction and promotes questions. On average, about 75 shows are given each year in the planetarium.
In October of 1998, Luther President Jeffrey Baker announced that the planetarium had officially been named the Emil C. Miller Planetarium. Dr. Miller was a long time professor and physics department head and was the driving force behind getting the planetarium along with the observatory facility eight miles outside of Decorah.
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