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The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill, NC

Updated on August 19, 2014

The Morehead Planetarium

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is located on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is one of the oldest and largest planetariums in the United States having welcomed over 7 million visitors by its 60th anniversary in 2009. The Planetarium and Science Center receives 2/3 of its funding through ticket sales and 1/3 through state funding.

First opened in 1949, the planetarium was used to train Gemini and Apollo program astronauts in celestial navigation. Until the late 1990s, it contained one of the largest working Copernican orreries in the world. The facility was donated to the university by alumnus John Motley Morehead III who invested over $3 million in the facility.

Morehead Planetarium opened on May 10, 1949 after seventeen months of construction. The first planetarium in the South, it was only the sixth to be built in the United States. Designed by the same architects who planned the Jefferson Memorial, the cost of its construction, more than $23,000,000 in today's dollars, made it the most expensive building ever built in North Carolina at the time. Morehead Planetarium was officially dedicated during a ceremony held on May 10, 1949.

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikipedia/Yeungb

Wikimedia Commons photo

Built in 1949, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center was the first planetarium ever built on a United States college campus.

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The planetarium was initially used to train Apollo and Gemini astronauts.

Driving Directions

A marker250 Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC -
250 Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC
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