Bakersfield College

William M Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College

Planetarium

The William M Thomas Planetarium has a Chronos star projector from GOTO and a SciDome all-dome video system from Spitz installed under a Spitz premium-seam 36-foot dome. Individual seating for 72 people all facing toward the same direction under the largest dome (36-foot diameter) in all of the Central Valley. Watch this video description of planetarium, its history, and what it's like to work at Bakersfield College.


Evening public shows

Planetarium closed during the summer. Barring another COVID surge, we'll start shows back up for the next academic year in September. Keep up with Bakersfield Night Sky online! KCCD has a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for everyone entering a KCCD facility, including the Planetarium. On the day of the show, get your campus pass and bring a printout of the clearance form from "Ready Education" in your email (subject line "Campus Pass for [date]"). See the COVID-19 Restrictions for Campus Visitors page for more details (see the "one-time visitor" section). You can upload your vaccination information on the Visitor Verification Form (allow at least three business days for processing).

Field trips

After March 12 , field trips operate under strong recommendation of wearing a mask for all attendees---see K12 Guidance for 2021-22 School Year. Teachers/school officials will fill out a Daily Health Checker Form for Planetarium field trips sent via email prior to the field trip show.

Eclipses

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 -- October 23, 2014 partial solar eclipse with Jupiter and Earth for scale --  Comparison of Venus transit 2012 and Mercury transit 2016 -- Transit of Mercury 2019 at 8 AM

(Left) Total Solar Eclipse Aug 2017 (no solar filter needed during totality). (Middle-left) Oct 2014 Solar eclipse with Jupiter and Earth for scale. (Middle-right) June 2012 Venus transit vs. May 2016 Mercury transit. (Right) November 2019 Mercury transit. Select images for a larger version.

History

Opened in the fall of 1962 (and formally dedicated in early January 1963 with the name "Bakersfield College Planetarium"), the William M Thomas Planetarium in Math-Science 112 has provided shows for over 4,500 K-12 students per year. The B.C. astronomy and physical science classes also use the planetarium at selected times during the semester.

View an animation of the transition from the old planetarium to the new planetarium.

The upgraded planetarium was named after Rep. Bill Thomas and dedicated on November 2, 2006. Congressman Thomas directed the $1 million in federal funds needed to move the planetarium into the 21st century. See this short video for more about the remodel.