Since it was dedicated on March 23, 1958, the Ralph Mueller Planetarium inside Morrill Hall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has captivated audiences of all ages with the wonders of our universe. It has undergone many changes over the years, but its goal has stayed the same: to be a "Theatre of the Stars."
And Yet it Moves
It's not hard to look up at the stars and wonder. All you need is a clear night sky and an inquisitive mind. But for those who wish to learn more and ponder more deeply into the mysteries of the universe, the Mueller Planetarium at UNL has been an invaluable resource for nearly 50 years.
Ground was broken for the Mueller Planetarium on July 15, 1957. This was the same year the USSR sent Sputnik 1 into orbit, sparking the international Space Race. The first spade of dirt was turned by then-Chancellor Clifford M. Hardin. Other dignitaries included (from left) Perry W. Branch, W.W. Putney, Dr. C. Bertrand Schultz and Gilbert Lueninghoener.
Museum Director Dr. C. Bertrand Schultz (left) inspects the planetarium's first projector before the facility opened in 1958. The other man is Herbert N. Williams, a consultant for Spitz Laboratories, the company that built the projector.
The planetarium's original projector was still in use in 1961.
Planetarium Director Richard Shellhouse examines the sophisticated new Spitz Model A-4YPR projector that went into service at the planetarium in 1970. The entire facility underwent a remodel that year.
OK, I lied, it's not an alien landscape. It's just the Mueller Planetarium at work, projecting a stellar explosion astronomers believed at the time formed Cygnus X-1. The picture was taken in 1980 as four exposures on a single frame.
Stars circle the heavens at the Mueller Planetarium in 1983.
Satellites, starbursts and silhouettes adorn the dome of the Mueller Planetarium in 1988.
The Laser Age
Lasers track the movements of the planets in a planetarium show in 1987.
UFOs descend on the unsuspecting Earth in a show titled "Cosmic Invaders" at the planetarium in 1981.
In a scene from 1980's "Whirlpools of Darkness," a spaceship heads toward the center of a black hole, only to disappear within its swirling depths. The film played at the Mueller Planetarium.
Patrick and his dad cover their eyes as a star explodes overhead at the Mueller Planetarium in 1980. Tad is a little braver, delighting in the stellar spectacle.
Behind the Scenes
Producer Joe Sohm checks one of 12 slide projectors, part of equipment used to project "Imagination" at the planetarium in this undated photo.
Working the Board
Laura Woodward works the control console at the Mueller Planetarium in 1982.
Laser Floyd, Dude!
UNL engineering major Walt Simmons sits at the controls of the laser projection system he rebuilt at the Mueller Planetarium. The system was used for laser music shows from 1989 onward.
Approaching the Moon
It's time for us to blast off once again from PhotoFiles. Thanks for coming along for the ride. We are now approaching the moon, where cheese snacks can be purchased. Until next time, keep looking up.