1959: The initial construction of the facility featured
a Spitz Model A-2 "pinhole" star projector which was donated by the
University of Washington thanks to the efforts Dr. Willard Brown. Some of the other early planeteers
were William Bender, Richard Small, and Ralph Aeschliman.
Projections by the Spitz A-2 included 1000 naked eye stars, planets, sun, the moon in 10 different
phases, Milky Way, Andromeda, meridian, ecliptic, twilight, geocentric view, and a
comet. Both northern and southern skies could be projected. The seating was 15 curved wooden pews
arranged in three sets of three, forming a full circle. Each pew had room for 5 adults for a total
of 45. There was an auxilary slide projector that could be operated from the center console.
1995, July: Brad Snowder
assumed the duties of manager and presenter. The website was first posted shortly
thereafter. The website has undergone many revisions since then.
Click here for website statistics and images of previous homepages.
2004, August: the Spitz A-2 was removed and a major upgrade of the facility was accomplished thanks to
a combination of funding: the WWU Student Technology Fee, and a matching state grant approved by the Washington State
The upgraded profile includes:
Thanks goes to WWU Scientific Technical Services for the elegant design and fabrication of the
projector dais and matching control console.
- Konica Minolta Mediaglobe full-color digital planetarium projector.
- Resurfaced and repainted dome.
- New curved, corner console, formica with a cherrywood top.
- Separate operation computer for remote control of the projector.
- DTS 5.1 surround sound system.
- Dual-processor video/audio production computer.
- Full Adobe video production software suite.
- Image Anyplace - realtime image warping device.
- Progressive scan DVD player.
- Wireless Network and high-speed Internet connectivity.
- Auxilary program monitor.
- Dozens of full-dome video programs.
2005, October: The planetarium received shipment of high quality IMAX type seating for 45. The
following month the seats were installed. Purchase of the seating was greatly facilitated
by contributions from many friends of the planetarium, especially President Karen Morse of WWU, and
Washington State Senator Harriet Spanel.
2007, April & May: Major renovations were implemented.
The old glass display cabinets were removed thus increasing the overall size of the facility and
making wider access to the control console. New carpet was installed. Florescent lights were removed
and replaced with track lighting. The gray cement walls were painted dark (Viking) blue.
2007, August: The primary entrance to the planetarium was
changed from the door on Red Square to the doors under the sky bridge that connects
the Wilson and Haggard sections of the library. The Red Square entrance was designated as
2007, November: The old Spitz Model A-2 planetarium projector, that had been
crated up and placed in storage following the upgrade, was acquired from WWU by Brad Snowder and placed on permanent loan
to Spark Museum of Electrical Invention (formerly The American Museum of Radio and Electricity) in
downtown Bellingham, WA.
2009, September: WWU Scientific Technical Services designed and
fabricated a printer/bookshelf cabinet
to match our control console.
2009, November: A group page was created on Facebook.com for the planetarium
Become a Fan.
2013, October: The Facility is officially named
"Dr. Leslie E. Spanel Planetarium"
and planning begins
for technical upgrades including a Digistar 5 projector.
Number of marriage proposals in the facility to date: 2