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Koninklijk Eise Eisinga Planetarium

The oldest working planetarium in the world

Suspended from the ceiling of the living room of a beautiful canal house in Franeker, is the oldest still working planetarium in the world. This accurately moving model of the solar system was built between 1774 and 1781 by the Frisian wool comber, Eise Eisinga. The Planetarium Room is the centerpiece of the Eise Eisinga Planetarium. The model of the sun with the 6 planets turning around it still functions. This makes it the oldest working planetarium in the world. During your visit, you will be given plenty of information in the Planet Room. This explanation will take about 15 minutes. You can discover the rest of the museum, including the radar on your own.

Who was Eise Eisinga

Eise Eisinga was born in Dronrijp on February 21, 1744. He attended primary school there. Like many children, at that time, he had to work at home, which his case was in his father's wool combing establishment. In addition to combing wool, he inherited his father's interest in matters such as astronomy and mathematics. He was so curious that he went to Franeker every week, where he studied Euclides's maths books with Willem Wijtses, a wool dyer. At the age of 24, Eisinga married Pietje Jacobs, after which he settled in Franeker in 1768, working as a wool comber.

The end of time

On May 8, 1774, a special constellation of planets formed. In the early morning, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and the moon were positioned closely in the sky. It was claimed that the mutual forces of these celestial bodies would knock the earth off its path and cause it to be burned up by the sun.

A preacher from Bozum, Eelco Alta, made this prediction. In April 1774, the Leeuwarder Courant published a piece about the writing of this ‘lover of truth’, as he called himself. His piece of writing carried the title: 'Philosophical concerns about the conjunction of the planets'. Alta's ideas caused a lot of unrest among the population. The authorities attempted to intervene by banning the piece of writing, but the damage had already been done.

No need to panic

Eisinga’s vast knowledge of mathematics and astronomy came in handy when, in May 1774, turmoil broke out in response to Eelco Alta's prediction. In order to give the people a correct picture of the solar system, he built a model of the solar system in his living room. Only seven years passed between his very first idea and the final realization of this project. Since 1781, Eisinga’s model has closely followed the paths of the 6 planets in our solar system. This makes it the oldest still-functioning planetarium in the world.

Permanent exhibitions

Other permanent parts of the museum include Eisinga's former wool combing establishment and an extensive collection of historical astronomical instruments. Modern astronomy is also represented. Non-stop documentaries are shown in the screening room. Experience how Eisinga lived in the historic house and digitally browse through Eisinga's beautiful mathematical and astronomical manuscripts! The interactive permanent exhibition 'De Ruimte' [Space] has been open to the public since 2016.

Virtual Tour: Discover the solar system

Koninklijk Eise Eisinga Planetarium
Eise Eisingastraat 3