Naval Hill Planetarium in Naval Hill, Bloemfontein, Free State
Entertained by the Stars
The Naval Hill Planetarium Theatre has a rather unique history and is situated within a game reserve, in the heart of the city of Bloemfontein. The Planetarium sits on top of Naval Hill with its exquisite panoramic views of the “City of Roses”.
Construction of the building which was to be called the Lamont-Hussey Observatory began in 1927. By March 1928 the installation of the 50 ton cupola and telescope was complete and on the 28th April 1928 the official opening, by the Mayor of Bloemfontein, took place. The Observatory was owned by the University of Michigan, but the running of the Observatory was later taken over by the University of the Free State
Unfortunately by 1971, the Observatory was not being used anymore and was officially closed down in 1974 when the massive 27 inch refractor was dismantled. As there was no use for the telescope or the building anymore it was donated to the Bloemfontein Municipality and in 1978 they donated it to PACOFS (Performing Arts Centre of the Free State) who transformed it a drama theatre. The Observatory Theatre opened in 1979 with its first production, namely “Die Huigelaar”, and Afrikaans translation of “Tartuffe” by Moliére.
The Observatory Theatre was renovated and opened as the Naval Hill Planetarium in November 2013. It is the first digital Planetarium in Sub-Saharan Africa and today runs several cosmic shows, keeping visitors entertained with interesting documentaries about stars, planets and more! The digital dome holds a 12 metre aluminium screen and the theatre also offers a powerful surround-sound system and multiple data projectors that ensures visitors have a true feeling of being in space.
The shows will never disappoint and it is highly recommended that visitors take a tour around Naval Hill and a show at the Planetarium. It is a unique experience to visit a Planetarium that was once used as an actual Observatory.
Things to do and see
- Planetarium / Cosmic Shows & Tours
- Franklin Nature Reserve
- Naval Hill Viewing Decks
- Nelson Mandela Statue
- White Horse Statue
Tickets can be bought through Computicket or visitors can contact the Planetarium directly.
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