The Montreal Planetarium is one of Montreal's most popular museums, especially with science buffs interested in discovering all subjects astronomical, be they in the form of interactive exhibits or the Planetarium's specialty, its immersive presentations.
The Montreal Planetarium features two dome-shaped theatres 18 meters (59 feet) in diameter which project its signature multimedia shows. Pre-renovation, the Planetarium attracted less than 100,000 visitors a year but with its news installations inaugurated in the spring of 2013 in the heart the Olympic Park, the Planetarium's attendance figures more than doubled.
The Old Planetarium
The only French language planetarium in North America, it was Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau who inaugurated the Montreal Planetarium in 1966, just in time for the Montreal Universal and International Exposition, or Expo 67.
The Planetarium used to be composed of a "Star Theatre" equipped with one Zeiss projector, 70 slide projectors and 150 special effects projectors with a hemispherical dome 20 meters in diameter covering the theater. But October 11, 2011 saw its doors close at its original St. Jacques location to relocate in brand new facilities in the Olympic Village, in close proximity to the Montreal Biodome, the Montreal Insectarium and the Montreal Botanical Garden.
The New Planetarium
The Montreal Planetarium unveiled its brand new installations, which include two theatres using digital projection systems -Chaos Theatre and Milky Way Theatre- on April 6, 2013.
Both dome-shaped theatres are 18 meters (59 feet) wide.
What sets them apart from comparable installations is the Milky Way Theatre's hybrid setup mixing digital technology with a "planet projector," a more traditional optomechanical projection system which, in the words of Planetarium management, gives audience members the impression they are gazing "out at the Universe from the perspective of planet Earth.
It can create a pitch-black sky making for a more intense experience and more realistic simulation."
Recreating the universe and movements of the sky, the Planetarium has produced over 250 astronomy shows since its 1966 opening. Particularly entertaining to kids and young teens, visitors are asked to arrive earlier than the scheduled show. Latecomers are not granted access to shows in progress. Presentations offered in English or French. Note that shows are recommended for ages 7 and up.
In association with the Montreal Planterium is the Société d'Astronomie du Planétarium de Montréal, the largest amateur astronomy club in Quebec. Both Beginners and experts are welcome to join. Note that conferences, classes and online information is in French. If language is an issue, then check out the Montreal chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
Varies by day. Check the schedule.
Admission January 5 to December 31, 2017*
$20.25 adult ($15.75 for Quebec residents); $18.50 senior ($14.75 for Quebec residents); $14.75 student with I.D. ($12 for Quebec residents); $10.25 youth ages 5 to 17 ($8 for Quebec residents); free for kids under 5, $56 family rate (2 adults, two youths) ($44.25 for Quebec residents).
Save money and pay less on admission fees with the Accès Montréal card.
Visit the Montreal Planetarium website for more information.
Any Nearby Attractions?
The Montreal Planetarium is somewhat off the beaten path, located 10 km (6 miles) east of downtown, but it's in close proximity to a smattering of popular attractions that can keep tourists and residents busy the entire day. Located on the grounds of the Olympic Park, the Planetarium is a short walk from the Montreal Biodome's five ecosystems -a rainforest in the dead of winter? Why not- and a slightly longer walk to the Montreal Botanical Garden and the Montreal Insectarium.
Restaurants are not forthcoming in the area, so do consider eating in the aforementioned museums' bistros. Food trucks might also be in the vicinity, but no guarantees.
*Admission and opening hours are subject to change without notice.