Bakersfield College

William M Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College


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.

Planetarium Fall 2019 Public Shows:

  • Black Holes showing September 18. Tickets on sale starting August 23. -- SOLD OUT!
  • Ice Worlds showing October 3.  Tickets on sale starting August 23.
  • Destination Mars showing October 16 (new show!). Tickets on sale starting September 19.
  • Dynamic Earth showing November 7. Tickets on sale starting October 17.
  • MARS One Thousand One showing November 20 (new show!). Tickets on sale starting October 17.
  • Season of Light showing December 4 & 11. Tickets on sale starting November 21.

Eclipse movie of pre-totality, totality, and post-totality pictures

How to View Sun Safely Link

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


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.