Planetarium History

Zacheis Planetarium opened in the fall of 1964, following a year of fundraising. The building was completely funded from private gifts.

Zacheis Observatory PlanetariumNamed for the first Adams State Foundation President, Harry Zacheis, the planetarium began providing free shows to the community in spring of 1965, and continues through today.

In 2012, the planetarium under-went a remodel, funded by a U.S. Department of Education’s Hispanic Serving Institutions STEM grant. The HSI-STEM grant supported a $400,000 renovation of Zacheis Planetarium, including installation of a brand new, top-of-the-line dome screen and a modern digital, full-dome projection system.

The planetarium provides out-reach to regional schools and the general public by offering free movies. The idea to add a planetarium to the Adams State campus came to Dr. Fred Plachy, emeritus president, when Dr. Walter Orr Roberts, then director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, delivered the commencement address in 1957.


Movies include: From Earth to the Universe, Experience the Aurora, Lamps of Atlantis, Oasis in Space, Bella Gaia, Black Holes, Natural Selection, To Space and Back, Astronaut 2012, Exploding Universe, Ultimate Universe, The First Stargazers, Bad Astronomy, Escher’s Universe, Into the Deep, Hubble Vision 2, Dynamic Earth, The Body Code, Fractal Explorations, Ice Worlds, Extreme Planets, Seven Wonders, Undiscovered Worlds, Earthquake, Cleopatra’s Universe, Dawn of the Space Age, Moons: Worlds of Mystery, Stars of the Pharaohs, Lucy’s Cradle, Saturn: Jewel of the Heavens, Dream to Fly, Supervolcanoes, Robot Explorers, Solar Superstorms, Space School, Sunstruck, Origins of Life, Fractal Explorations, and Lamps of Atlantis.

Adams State University ObservatoryObservatory

The Adams State Observatory is located on the north end of campus between the softball and baseball fields by the Rio Grande. Parking is available on the west side of Stadium Drive or in a parking lot. There is no parking at the observatory.

Zacheis Planetarium Directors

  • Noble Gantvoort, emeritus professor of mathematics and astronomy, until 1979
  • Dr. Richard Peterson, emeritus professor of geology, until 1990
  • Dr. Randy Emmons, emeritus professor of physics, until 2009
  • Dr. Robert Astalos, former professor of physics, until 2018
  • Dr. Matt Nehring, professor of physics
Planetarium Events