The oldest active planetarium in the world nominated for the Unesco list

The famous Franeker planetarium. Photo: Erik Zachte via Wikimedia Commons

The Eise Eisinga planetarium in Franeker, the oldest active planetarium in the world, is officially recommended for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List, confirmed the Minister of Culture Ingrid van Engelshoven.

The planetarium is a mobile model of the solar system that Eisinga, a wool merchant by trade, built between 1774 and 1781 in the ceiling of his own house. It has been on the Unesco tentative list since 2011.

Eisinga built the planetarium to disprove a theory that some planets were on a collision course and the end of the world was imminent, and he hoped his model would demonstrate that the planets were actually in conjunction.

He was, says Unesco on its website, not a scientist in the formal sense but a “creative genius who built the planetarium entirely on his own initiative”.

There are currently 12 Dutch sites on the Unesco World Heritage list, following the addition of the German Lower Limes and ‘Colonies of Benevolence’ in Groningen and Drenthe earlier this year.

The planetarium, which is still functioning, and the rest of Eisinga’s house, are open to the public.

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Arline J. Mercier