The Hatter Planetarium

Gettysburg College





The Night Sky



Visit Gettysburg Skies, the unofficial blog of the Hatter Planetarium. Planetarium news and notes, follow-up resources for show topics, and sky events with a local slant.

Show Request Form!

The request form, is now accepting show requests for 2014-15. Expect some delay in response through Spetember as we work out our student presenters' schedules. Thank you!

Show Jan 24 is cancelled! We are going to stay out of the way while Facilities gets the campus ready for Monday. Stay safe!

Welcome to the web pages of the Hatter Planetarium, serving the Gettysburg College campus and surrounding community since 1966 - and offering more all the time! The Hatter Planetarium is located in the north wing of the Physics Department's Masters Hall on campus, and was built in 1966 as the result of a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. George G. Hatter. This web site aims to keep things simple but still let you know what we offer, as well as how and when you can get yourself, your friends, or your class (etc.) here to experience it. Be sure to check The Night Sky section of the site to help apply what you learn in the planetarium to the real sky.


The Hatter Planetarium offers two main kinds of shows, public and private through the academic year (September to mid-May). Both are live talks by a presenter, and all our shows are absolutely free of charge. Public shows include our long-running The Sky this Month series, which shows you what to look for from your backyard in the upcoming month as well as explaining recent astronomical news. Obviously the shows change month to month, but we cover different material from year to year as well, so regularly attending them is a great way to pick up a wide base of astronomy knowledge.

In addition, we offer a variety of shows on special topics. These have included shows on important astronomical topics such as the search for extraterrestrial life and the classification of Pluto, as well as shows tied into Gettysburg College, such as “The Asteroid Patrol” and “The History of Astronomy at Gettysburg College.”

We welcome private show requests from school and community groups! These are now handled via a web form.


Schedule as a PDF.

Cancellation Policy for Public Shows

Check the Gettysburg College web site first. If the College is open, we will make all reasonable efforts to hold the shows as scheduled. In the unlikely event that we cannot hold the show for our own reasons (e.g., the presenter is ill and no substitute is available, equipment failure, etc.) an update will be posted to this site and to the Gettysburg Skies blog.


The planetarium is located in Masters Hall on the Gettysburg College campus. It was installed in 1966 as the result of a generous gift of Mr. And Mrs. George G. Hatter. Mr. Hatter, class of 1911, was a member of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. It can seat up to 100 people in concentric bench seating. The Hatter Planetarium and Masters Hall are wheelchair accessible.


For information on getting to Gettysburg College, study the Visiting Gettysburg section of the College site. The planetarium is on the first floor of Masters Hall, room 115. Visitor parking is available in the Masters Lot off of Constitution Ave. Additional visitor parking is availble in the Stone Lot on the other side of Constitution (G/H-5 on the campus map below). The closest door to the planetarium is on the north-west side. As you walk from Masters Lot, bear left past the door facing you and turn right around the corner. The planetarium will be the first door on your left after you enter. NOTE: full-sized school buses will have difficulty making the turn at the end of Masters Lot and should not enter it. We suggest dropping students off near the entrance to Masters Lot and parking the bus in the Stone Lot.
Google Map
Campus Map

Spitz A3P

The heart of the facility is its original optical-mechanical Spitz A3P planetarium projector. It gives us the ability to model the sky and its motions on the 30-foot planetarium dome. It's capabilities have been augmented over the years with a variety of other projectors (slide, special effects, and video). Currently, we work most of our magic with the original star projector and two video projectors connected to a PC. A quality sound system rounds out the experience. We must disclose that our planetarium is years behind the state of the art. Nevertheless, the domed environment in any form is an unsurpassed tool for teaching all ages about the night sky. We believe that that tool, combined with our personal presentations and local slant, make the Hatter Planetarium an extremely valuable outreach program in the community.

If you are interested, you can read a 2006 student paper about the history of the Hatter Planetarium here. [Ed. Note: I wish I could revise my quote on page 15 about the planetarium needing to be upgraded or dying within five years. We have had a thorough maintenance visit since then and could go on years some longer, I believe, though the need for an upgrade remains.]

Contacting Us

The entire planetarium staff works on a part time basis, so an e-mail to Program Director Ian Clarke is the best way to reach us. You are reading this on the web, so that should be no problem. Someone interested in a show but without e-mail access should call Judy Jones in the Physics Dept. office at 717-337-6020. Of course, you can also talk to the presenter in person after a show. FYI, we do give the cell phone number of the scheduled presenter to group leaders in case of an emergency change of plans.


  • Laurence Marschall, Executive Director (ultimate oversight)

  • Ian Clarke, Program Director (day-to-day operations, show presenter)

  • Alex Peters, 2012, Student Assistant (presenter)

  • John Gianini, 2012, Student Assistant (presenter)

Thanks also to those who help us in the course of their Physics Department duties, including Academic Office Administrator Judy Jones and Electronics Technician Gary Hummer.

The Night Sky

In this section are links and other information that will help you learn more about astronomy. These only touch the surface, of course, but they are chosen with emphasis on helping you get out for some local stargazing.

  • Gettysburg Skies, the unofficial blog of the Hatter Planetarium. Planetarium news and notes, follow-up resources for show topics, and sky events with a local slant.

  •, free monthly star maps like those we distribute at the planetarium, more.

  • Heavens Above. Satellite and ISS passover and iridium flare predictions, more.

    Gettysburg Clear Sky Clock

    Click Image for More Info

  • US Naval Observatory, Astronomical Applications. Sunrise, sunset times, and much more almanac data.

  • The Sky at a Glance. Weekly from Sky and Telescope magazine. Podcasts too.

  • Gettysburg College Observatory. Primarily a research facility (rather than outreach), but you can learn about it here.

  • Stellarium. There is a bit of a learning curve, but this is very good free, open source “planetarium software.”

    Local Panoramas for Astronomy Software

    We have created local panorama backgrounds for use with Stellarium and the commercial Starry Night that you can download here [sorry: updates/fixes in process].

    Astronomy Picture of the Day. Just what it sounds like, with an expert explanation. Great site.

  • Hubblesite. Public release images and everything else related to the Hubble Space Telescope.

  • NASA Eclipse Website. Wonderful and thorough site.

  • NASA Solar System Exploration. Gateway to sites of the many solar system probes (Mars rovers, New Horizons, Cassini, and many more).