John Glenn Planetarium: Shine Again

Growing up in Westland, I vividly remember in elementary school walking to John Glenn to get my first tastes of astronomy in its planetarium, which is a rare treasure to have in a high school building.

Unfortunately, the planetarium still functions on the original 1960's analog technology that was installed when the school was built. A huge light projects stars out of a large metal ball in the center of the room, and is operated through a series of switches and dials.

The planetarium equipment, along with the other technology used in the planetarium (such as slide projectors) is on its last legs. While the planetarium still serves its Astronomy students from time to time, the old analog equipment remains unreliable and lo-tech.

Having a digital system in the planetarium would again making the John Glenn planetarium a shining star in the school and in the community, with a potential to offer a great resource for astronomy students and a wonderful potential to again offer planetarium programming to other students as well as community groups.

Here is information about the digital system that would be installed, in addition to an ipad to control the planetarium and new LED energy efficient cove lighting.
The planetarium: The projection system itself is a Digitarium Gamma Fixed Digital Planetarium System.

I am a 1989 graduate of John H. Glenn and an awardee of John Glenn's Distinguished Alumni Award. When I found out about the state of the planetarium, I was determined to give back to my school and to my community by raising the funds to digitize the planetarium.

In Spring 2015, I met with John Glenn Astronomy staff as well as their assistant superintendent about a plan to raise funds for this project. You can view their letters of support here: 
Letter from David Christiansen & Linda Willman, Planetarium Directors
Letter from John F. Albrecht, Asst. Superintendent of Educational Services, Wayne-Westland Community Schools

In case you are not comfortable giving on the Web, you may also donate using a personal check. The check needs to be made payable to John Glenn High School (please put Planetarium Fund on the memo line) and send the donation to my home:
22973 Mayfield Ave.
Farmington, MI  48336-3965

I will update the tally as I receive checks. They will likely not be deposited until school is back in session.

If you can help by printing posters and posting them (with permission) at local businesses, libraries, civic buildings, that would be helpful too since we don't live in Westland. Here is the link to download a fancy poster:



Donations (0)

  • Marlea Pfeil 
    • $50 
    • 24 mos
  • Rebecca Donnelly-Lasecki 
    • $88 
    • 25 mos
  • Jenn Garland 
    • $50 
    • 25 mos
  • Brad Pfeil 
    • $50 
    • 25 mos
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    • $50 
    • 32 mos


Steven Koponen 
Westland, MI
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