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What's Cool

A Japanese Journey to the Stars

Part 1

The Biggest Planetarium Shows in the World

Super Megastar II

Super Megastar II (C) Ohira Tech

There are more than 100 large-scale planetariums in Japan that have domes 15 meters in diameter or bigger. This is more than any other country in the world. In fact, Japan is home to a whole third of all the facilities on this scale in the world. In Japan, planetariums are a popular destination for school trips and family outings. In recent years, several Japanese planetariums have introduced cutting-edge equipment and unveiled exciting new programs designed to draw even bigger crowds.

Many Japanese planetariums are equipped with special projectors that can project huge numbers of stars. One of the most advanced of all is the Megastar II, developed by a famous Japanese planetarium scientist called Ohira Takayuki. This machine can project up to 5 million stars, with an apparent magnitude (brightness) of 12.5, so that even quite dim stars can be seen. This is more than 100 times the number of stars that could be projected with ordinary machines—and nearly twice the brightness. Another projector called the Super Megastar II can project up to 22 million stars. Some of the stars are so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye—but even so, they add to the sense of depth and give visitors a realistic sense that they are gazing up at real stars in the heavens. At Atsugi City Children’s Science Center at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology in Kanagawa Prefecture, visitors are given binoculars to help them make out the deep recesses of outer space.


A planetarium show inside the Fujikawa Rakuza (C) Ohira Tech