Trivia

Hard

The Oldest Planetarium In The World Is Located Where?

A Dutch Living Room
A Russian Cave
The Parthenon
Oxford University
A picture of the teal and golden mechanical components of the planetarium.
The Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium

Answer: A Dutch Living Room

In the Dutch city of Franeker, there is a small and unassuming home that houses a planetarium on the ceiling of its living room. The intricate and mechanically driven model of our solar system is over 230 years old and, as such, is the oldest functioning planetarium in existence—and if you want to get very technical about it and perhaps even learn a new word today, it’s the oldest functioning orrery, or mechanical model of the solar system, in the world.

How, exactly, did a small home in the Netherlands become a planetarium? To answer that question, we have to dig into the history of one brilliant but amateur Dutch astronomer by the name of Eise Eisinga. The son of a wool worker, Eisinga wasn’t allowed to go to school but was, instead, compelled to study his father’s craft. Despite this, he educated himself and published his first work on astronomy at the age of 17. Later in life, he even served as a professor at the Franeker Academy.

Eisinga began work on his planetarium during the summer of 1774. Earlier that same year, Reverend Eelco Alta published a book claiming that an impending conjunction of the Moon and the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter would cause all five cosmic bodies to collide, with the result being that the Earth would be pushed out of its orbit and burned by the Sun. This prediction caused an inordinate amount of panic among the public and Eisinga, as a service to the public, began working on an intricate model of the solar system in order to show that the prediction and its foretold outcome was false.

The entire project took 7 years (far more than the 6 months Eisinga had originally predicted) and featured a complex system of wooden rings fitted with thousands of hand-forged nails to serve as cog-teeth. Despite its age, the apparatus still tracks the placement of planets in our solar system with precision—a testament to both the quality of the construction and the knowledge of the builder.

Trivia

Hard

What Was The First Video Game Console Called?

Trivia

Very Hard

The Iconic Chest-Bursting Scene In The Horror Film Alien Was Inspired By?

Trivia

Very Hard

Which Of These Colas Was Originally Called “Brad’s Drink” Before Assuming Its Modern Name?

Trivia

Easy

Which Simpsons Character Was Originally Intended As Homer’s Secret Identity?

Trivia

Hard

What Gemstone Was Originally, But No Longer, Considered Precious?

Trivia

Easy

The Primary Historical Purpose Of The Windmills Found Throughout The Netherlands Was?

Trivia

Hard

IBM’s Natural Language Supercomputer Watson Was Named After?

Trivia

Hard

Throughout The Northeastern U.S., Sunrooms Are Commonly Referred To As?

Trivia

Hard

Moon Dust Smells Like?

Trivia

Hard

Panspermia Is The Theory That Life Was Deposited On Earth By?