Volkssternwarte Laupheim

EurAstro essay by J.-L. Dighaye, after a visit on January 15, 2006.

If you come there by public transportation, Laupheim is some 20 minutes away from Ulm by train, and the public observatory cum planetarium another 20 minutes walk from the train station - through a lovely, miniature town. Unless you take one of the buses, which are midget-sized too, to the planetarium. Which, by contrast, is a great facility.

At first, I was delighted by the sure artistic taste of those who designed and decorated the entrance hall, the meteorite exhibition, and the sta(i)rcase leading to the observatory. Not at all the grim, Spartan look of the typical popular observatory. Kids, in particular, feel at home in Laupheim - and there were many of them attending the planetarium show.

They devise original productions there. In harmony with the season, I saw a brief introduction to the winter sky, followed by a didactic yet thrilling demonstration of the connection between the Star of Bethlehem and the Jupiter-Saturn triple conjunction in Pisces (*). No clue was excluded, from astrological lore to Hebrew prophecies, together with local geography around Jerusalem and the occurrence of zodiacal light above Bethlehem, to prevent the "Kings Mages" astrologers from finding newborn Jesus. A fine show, both accurate and easy to understand, as was the smart, attractive young lady who introduced it.

(*) The hypothesis of the Star of Bethlehem having been a comet was dismissed: everybody around would have seen the comet, not only the distinguished astrologers, and why would these have bothered to follow such a portent of bad omen?

Chairman Werner Kiesle in person was waiting for me at the front desk to show me the rest of the facility, whose telescopes are manifestly above average. No need for me to present them further, since the excellent
internet site of Laupheim planetarium , mostly in German but with an English home page, will inform you in detail about the instruments in the moving roof observatory, the dome and the planetarium.

I left the Volkssternwarte and rushed in the cold to the train station, just in time to see the Moon and Saturn rise amidst clouds, but no Star of Bethlehem...

Laupheim City Hall

Laupheim Church & Castle

Planetarium Access

Planetarium Exhibits

Planetarium Projector

Planetarium Telescopes