Eisinga Planetarium

Franeker, Netherlands

The Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium is an 18th-century orrery in Franeker. It is currently a museum and open to the public. The orrery has been on the top 100 Dutch heritage sites list since 1990 and nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate based on its long history as a working planetarium open to the public and its continued efforts to preserve its heritage.

The orrery was built from 1774 to 1781 by Eise Eisinga. An orrery is a planetarium, a working model of the solar system. The 'face' of the model looks down from the ceiling of what used to be his living room, with most of the mechanical works in the space above the ceiling. It is driven by a pendulum clock, which has 9 weights or ponds. The planets move around the model in real time, automatically. The planetarium includes a display for the current time and date. The plank that has the year numbers written on it has to be replaced every 22 years.

The Eise Eisinga Planetarium is the oldest still working planetarium in the world. To create the gears for the model, 10,000 handmade nails were used. In addition to the basic orrery, there are displays of the phase of the moon and other astronomical phenomena. The orrery was constructed to a scale of 1:1,000,000,000,000 (1 millimetre: 1 million kilometres).

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    Founded: 1774-1781
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    4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

    User Reviews

    AccessibleTravel.Online (2 years ago)
    Fantastic museum - accessible toilets, ramps and pathways, elevator. Can't get to all places (house from the 1800s) but they managed to provide great accessibility. Oldest working planetarium in the world. Best museum ever! Guided tour in Dutch and English. It's less than 1,5 from Amsterdam. If you go via the Afsluitdijk you will see another Dutch cultural heritage location.
    Cassio de Campos (2 years ago)
    Friendly staff, very nice tour and description of the main planetarium room where this oldest mechanical planetarium in the world is still functioning. The view of the mechanism is very nice, and the details of the documents from the time of construction are impressive. The colours of the walls and ceiling are original, quite impressive too.
    Peter Chester (2 years ago)
    Mind blowing how a wool comber in 1774 had the knowledge of mathematics to design plus the engineering skills to make such a machine ,mainly self taught is beyond belief.Def. with a visit.
    Tam (2 years ago)
    Amazing to see this ancient planetarium. An impressive number of antique instruments. Nice interactive and informative displays on calendars, space and the maker of the planetarium. The presentations are in a number of languages.
    Ding Chee Kok (2 years ago)
    Totally blown away by the genius of this man in building a miniature solar system in his room. Must visit to see it first hand.
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