Walker County Schools

 Smith Planetarium 

About Us

The Smith Planetarium is one of the few remaining planetariums in the country that is administered by a public school system. Our primary mission is to supplement and support the educational needs of our regional school districts. Our programs are designed to augment and add-to the material the teacher is covering in the classroom with a focus on the Next Generation Science Standards. We present planetarium shows to field trip groups from local schools throughout the Chattanooga area. We also present public planetarium shows and host local businesses, clubs and organizations. In addition, our facility serves as a venue for local events and meetings. 

Our facility boasts a 40' dome with seating for 92 guests. We are currently using a Konica Minolta Mediaglobe II projector and our library of planetarium shows includes more than 20 programs. Our meeting room/ event hall can seat up to 90 guests. Our Helen Solomon Geology Exhibit contains an extensive collection of rocks, minerals, gemstones, crystals, fossils & native american artifacts - many of which were gathered locally. Our Shirley Smith Nature Walk is an interpretive nature trail highlighting native species from around the local area. We strive to continually improve our facility to enhance the experience of our guests.

Our History

Our original facility was founded by Jim & Shirley Smith in 1967. At that time (during the Space Race) there was a very strong push for planetariums to be built all around the country. Perhaps nowhere was this more evident than in our nation's school systems. This trend changed shortly after the Apollo moon landings as our national interests shifted elsewhere. Since that time, most of the school planetariums around the country have closed. In fact, ours is one of the few remaining from that era. 

The original facility was located at Rock Spring, GA and operated there for over 30 years. Jim Smith served as the first planetarium director, followed by Dr. Wayne Robinson. The original planetarium was closed in 1998. For the next 13 years, Walker County had no planetarium. The man who was key to reopening the planetarium was Dr. Wayne Robinson. He worked tirelessly in this endeavor and in 2011 a new planetarium was established at Pond Springs. In 2015, John Hart became the director of the new planetarium. We are proud to preserve the legacy of Jim & Shirley Smith as we continue to serve the citizens of Walker County and the greater Chattanooga area.