This simple question is an important one, as it reflects upon the very
viability and importance of our profession, and the dome theater itself as a
media outlet and dispenser of enlightenment — astronomical and
Since 1990, I've collected annual attendance figures for planetaria
in the Loch Ness Productions database. School shows, public shows, concerts,
laser shows, whatever and altogether — how many humans experience the
simulated environment of the starry sky under a planetarium dome?
While I've received responses from about 10% of the world's
theaters, this tally uses only attendance reports received over the
last five years to keep the projection relatively current. For some
additional observations and disclaimers,
read this page.
A quick explanation about my methods:
- First, since the United States has nearly as many planetaria as the rest
of the world's countries combined, it makes sense to separate out the U. S. responses for observation when counting.
- Next, I categorize the domes by size (diameter in meters).
- I add up all the annual attendance figures I received over the last 5
years for each category, and average the total.
- Then, I multiply that average by the number of domes of that size
known to exist, to project an annual attendance for each category.
- Sum them
up, and voilá, an estimate of total annual attendance. I also
calculate for how much of the projection each category accounts.