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Blended Bites Blog

Cardboard Planetarium

Jessica Anderson

In 2011 I wrote a grant which was funded by the Plum Creek Foundation in Montana and embarked on the building of a cardboard planetarium with my astronomy students. We were inspired by another Montana classroom who had built a similar one.

Yes, a cardboard planetarium:

Here are some of the questions I get regularly:

How long did it take? After the supplies were ordered about 7 weeks.

Did you have a kit? Nope. We used the dome calculator at this website ( to determine the size and number of each triangle we needed. We did try to make our own templates by measuring, but found that even being the slightest bit off caused a whole lot of issues.  We had my husband, who is a drafter, draw up the dimensions and print us templates. All the cardboard came from a paper company in 8 ft. sheets. Some students traced the templates, some cut them out, others folded the edges and used nail punches to put holes in the cardboard for the rivets. To put it together we used Mr. McGroovey's removable rivets.

How big is it? It is 17' in diameter and 10' tall.

How many people does it fit? 25 high schoolers and around 40 elementary does get very hot with this many though (even with a fan).

Where do you store it? Since it all can be taken apart and put back together it gets stored in an itty bitty closet in our school when not being used.

What type of mirror and projector did you use? A Go-vex projection mirror and a movie projector that we ordered from Dell.

How much did it cost? $3,400 (we were right on budget)

What types of things can you play in the planetarium? We have planetarium shows, but have also used regular DVDs that work just fine. The students also made planetarium movies using movie maker for the elementary students.

It now also has a tunnel that is attached.

Go-Vex Mirror

Go-Vex mirror and projector

Putting it together