Glorious sound and imagery await you! In 2020, we updated to a brand-new 5.1 surround-sound system and an amazing Digitarium Lambda Plus laser projection system!
The planetarium is open each day the Calusa Nature Center is open and we typically have educational/fun public shows at 12:15 pm and 2:15 pm daily; seating starts 15-20 min before the shows. We also offer private planetarium shows for prearranged Field Trips, typically before noon on weekdays (and an extra Science Sunday show on Sunday afternoons), and at other times for rentals/special events. If your visit's timing/content is crucial, please check with the front desk to be sure of the schedule for a given day, as we do have occasional rentals, refurbishing times, late field trips, and special events: 239-275-3435.
Admission to planetarium shows is included in the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium ticket price and all public daytime planetarium shows are free to members. Our planetarium shows rotate monthly and an up-to-date schedule can be found here.
The Calusa Nature Center Planetarium is the only planetarium in our area of Southwest Florida, with no other planetarium open to the public along the western half of Florida south of Bradenton. We take our educational mission seriously and love bringing the wonders of the Universe to our Southwest Florida community and visitors!
Ground was broken for the Calusa Nature Center Planetarium in May 1984, and construction was completed in December 1986. The planetarium dome is 44 feet in diameter. The planetarium has permanent seats for 86 people and 4 wheelchair spaces.
For big screen/flatscreen projection, a high-brightness LCD video system projects brightly from the rear of the planetarium, allowing us to show anything from a laptop, DVD player, or Blu-Ray player. With a 44′ light path, the images are large as well as bright, making this venue suitable for everything from 80-person meetings to special corporate or social events to marriage proposals!
How We've Changed: In 2010, the original Spitz 512 planetarium projector (which projected only a star field) was replaced by a Konica Minolta Mediaglobe II digital projector, which allowed us to begin showing full-dome "movie" style planetarium shows. In 2020, that was replaced by the Digitarium Lambda-Plus laser-phosphor system: brighter and higher-defiition for a real sense of "zooming through space" when that's what's needed!
A 40-foot by 11-foot stage was added to the front of the planetarium theater in 2011, making it more versatile for speakers, plays, small concerts, and other special events (for example, we’ve hosted chamber music, private parties, weddings, memorial services, and fashion shows, and in Spring, 2024 a live stage play).
In 2020, during a covid-crisis shutdown, the new Digitalis Education Digitarium Lambda Plus projection system replaced the Mediaglobe II digital projector, but that was only the beginning! The Digitarium Lambda Plus is a laser-phosphor high-brightness, high-contrast, high-resolution planetarium system from Digitalis Education Solutions. In August 2021, Ash Enterprises installed a brand-new 5.1 surround-sound system (and we have more needed-upgrade items on our list, for which we are fundraising). We are all excited about the Lambda Plus and the surround-sound system, and so very pleased to bring our visitors the next step in full-dome total immersion!
As the only planetarium between Miami and Bradenton, we need community investment to complete the renewal of our inner space. We have some large donor support and a foundation grant that has launched the planetarium to begin our renovation process. With your generous donation, we can continue to help our visitors and children reach for the stars! Click here to learn more and set your name among those who have helped us reach for the stars.