Working to preserve the history of Hansen Planetarium

Callista Pearson

Dozens of boxes hold decades of history and artifacts of the old Hansen Planetarium at the Salt Lake County Archives building. Photos, correspondence with famous scientists and science fiction writers and old star show scripts are just some of what you can find wandering down the aisle marked for the planetarium.

karri in the stacks

Karri Krattley, Archives Program Manager, in the stacks.

When Hansen Planetarium left its home at 15 South State Street in 2002 to move to The Gateway and reopen as Clark Planetarium, planetarium director Seth Jarvis coordinated with Salt Lake County Records & Archives to preserve the history of Hansen Planetarium for historians, students, and anyone who wants to know more about Salt Lake City’s Hansen Planetarium.

Karri Krattley, Salt Lake County’s Archives Program Manager for this project, said when she was digging through the material she was amazed to see what was put in the clipping collection. It took over a year and half to organize several loads of boxes containing video

One of many photos taken in the Hansen Planetarium.

Hansen Planetarium's Moon Globe exhibit from 1965. The globe now is on display at Clark Planetarium.

tapes,audio tapes, slides, photos, old movie films and scripts. In her in-depth organization of the files she did find some surprising pieces. “I was going through an old dusty, dirty box and right in the middle like someone had forgotten it, was a black and white autographed 8×10 photo of Werner von Braun.” (von Braun was a leading figure in the development of rocket technology.)

The star chamber inside the Hansen Planetarium.

The "Star Chamber" inside the Hansen Planetarium (1965) with its first director, Mark Littmann, at the controls.

In addition to 38 years of records and correspondence, thousands of pieces of original artwork used in the creation of Hansen Planetarium programs from 1965 to 2002 had to be digitally scanned and cataloged as part of this archiving process.

If you’re interested in seeing the archives, call and make an appointment or send them an email.

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3 thoughts on “Working to preserve the history of Hansen Planetarium

  1. Pingback: Salt Lake County’s Planetarium | Salt Lake County Archives

  2. Thank you Hansen for the opportunity for us school district planetariums to present really fine, professionally created planetarium shows. I have been retired since 1993, but still fondly remember shows like The People and Cosmos. They were affordable, and could be presented in any planetarium with a slide projector or two, and a tape recorder. In our school district (Colonial School District, Plymouth Meeting, PA) I had high school students make up the production team, help build the special effects projectors we needed (using your plans) and put on the shows. The Hansen made it possible for us to act like the big guys.
    Thanks for the memories,

    Stephen Berr

  3. Thanks for your kind words, Stephen.

    I started working at Hansen in 1978 and have fond memories of both those shows.

    Presenting Star Shows in the “old days” involved manually turning on and off dozens of projectors, manually guiding the Spitz star projector, guiding alt-az mirrors on zoomable lenses for special effects projectors, manually cycling multiple slide trays and keeping the sequences straight, etc.

    A Star Show was a performance!

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