Peterson Planetarium has provided quality programming since 1959 for Emporia State University and the greater Emporia/Lyon County community. The Peterson Planetarium is located in Cram Science Hall on the Emporia State University campus. The Peterson Planetarium is administered through the Departments of Physical Sciences with funds provided by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Programming at the Peterson Planetarium serves a variety of community and University audiences. About 50 percent of the programs are presented for the interest and enjoyment of community groups. School-age children from the Emporia area and surrounding counties represent the largest group of off-campus patrons of planetarium programming. About 50 percent of planetarium programs are for direct support of instruction in several courses in the physical sciences.
On December 3, 1994 the planetarium and instruments, including the original Spitz Model A-2 star projector, were severely damaged when a main water line on campus ruptured. The water traveled through utility tunnels and flooded the planetarium chamber, which was at the lowes level. A State of Kansas General Building Fund allocation of $500,000 provided funds for the planetarium's restoration, and the Peterson Planetarium was completely renovated during 1996. A reopening dedication occurred in January, 1997.
The restored planetarium is designed for a variety of programming. The main instrument is a Spitz System 512planetarium projection system, housed under a 24-foot projection dome. The main projector is supported by a video projection system and a stereophonic sound system. The automation system was upgraded in 2007 to an ATM-4 system developed and installed by Spitz, Incorporated.