Fiske Planetarium & Sommers-Bausch Observatory at the University of Colorado

Fiske Planetarium and Sommoers-Bausch Observatory are on the University of Colorado campus directly across the street from the Boulder Inn.  Inside or outside enjoy the stars while staying at Boulder Inn!

Fiske Planetarium presents star shows, laser shows, lobby exhibits, educational talks and astronomical / NASA-related space events. Show titles include“Black Holes,” “Dynamic Earth,” “Super Volcanoes,” and “Zula Patrol” — a family show — as well as laser shows set to everything from the music of Pink Floyd to Lady Gaga. Tickets range from $7 to $10.

First opened in 1971 from a generous donation from Wallace Franz Fiske (CU class of 1917), Boulder’s own planetarium hosts a diverse range of star shows, star talks, laser shows, and special live events including at times concerts, weddings and dance performances. The planetarium’s 20-meter diameter dome (the largest between Chicago and Los Angeles) was for many years home to one of the few Carl Zeiss Mark VI Stereoptic Star Projectors, affectionately known to  Boulder kids  as “Fritz,” after the German engineer who oversaw its installation.

In 2013 “Fritz” retired to the lobby where he continues to welcome guests to the free lobby science center and  Fiske began a major theater systems upgrade, making  it now one of the most technically advanced immersive theaters on planet Earth. Scientists at CU Boulder and elsewhere keep searching for a more advanced planetarium on other planets but they have not found one, yet. Come to Fiske to learn how the search is going!

The new Megastar ball optical star projector can display up to 20 million individual stars. The naked eye can see about 6,000 stars. The new projector is so powerful that you can use binoculars inside the planetarium to see millions of more stars. In addition Fiske also now boasts a new Sky-Skan video system, which projects high-definition pictures at 8,000 by 8,000 pixels in size, giving audience members a clearer and deeper 360-degree view overhead. The size and quality is the equivalent of 40 Blu-ray players projecting 40 sections of one video image at once. Just like at an IMAX theater, Fiske can take you near a black hole, through the Grand Canyon, under the ocean, or up to a super volcano. The sky is no longer the limit.

The technology to project stars, lasers and celestial wonders onto a dome screen continually changes but the magic of our imagination that we had as kids looking up at the night sky never does.  Discover the magic and joy again of visiting a planetarium and learn about cutting age space science adventures from one of the premier space universities in the country. Also just relax and enjoy spacing out to your favorite music while watching laser patterns dance before your eyes. Want to see real starlight up close? Wait for a clear night and visit Sommers-Bausch Observatory next to Fiske Planetarium on a Friday night. It is operated by the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences to provide observational experience for undergraduate students, and hands-on training in astronomical observations and instrumentation for departmental majors and graduate students. Telescopes include 16, 18, and 24-inch Cassegrain reflectors and a 10-inch aperture heliostat.

Sommers-Bausch Observatory hosts free open houses for public viewing through the 16-and 18-inch telescopes every Friday evening that school is in session, hosted primarily by university astronomy grad students and faculty. Students, families, groups, and the general public are all welcome! Come and enjoy with others starlight that has taken years to get here.

The Observatory is located on the hill just east of Fiske Planetarium, near the corner of Regent Drive and Kittridge Loop. After enjoying a planetarium show look for the medium-sized smooth dome above the crinkled geodesic dome of the planetarium.

For complete programs, please visit: or call: 303-492-5002.