Best seat in the planetarium

Living in NYC, I gaze up at the clear night sky and see (maybe) 4-10 stars. I’m planning a trip to the planetarium to satisfy my cosmic craving. Will I get the best view seated against the wall, down near the center, or somewhere else? I’m never sure. Does anybody live where you can actually see the Milky Way? Can I come visit you?

My experience is that the planetarium shows generally rotate the view so that all seats get a good show. If I travel an hour or so out of town, the skies are pretty dark. Three hours gets me to very dark skies. Instead of going 2,000 miles, you might want to try Montauk. That’s about as dark as you are going to get within around 200 miles:

I’ve been to one in Houston, Denver, OKC, L.A., and a small college. IMHO, just about anywhere has been a good seat. I’ve sat up front, near the wall, and in the middle.

If the show is done well, any seat is good, more or less. If done poorly, no seat location redeems.

Done well: When the show starts lock the doors, sound high enough to hear clearly without being overpowering, competent narration (if not already prerecorded), clean optics on the equipment, no obnoxious viewers (oohs and ahhs are okay, save your exposition for someone who cares after the show), clean auditorium (a rat or roach crawling on you or companions will put one right off the planetarium experience, let me tell you)

Not done well: reverse the above list to negatives.


beowulff - Thanks for the site. Lots of helpful info. Kind of depressing though. When I was a kid (in the mid '50s), I lived a few miles north of Boston (Marblehead) and we would set our alarms for the middle of the night to get up and view various astral events forcasted on the news. Couldn’t do that nowadays. It feels like a spiritual loss.

Don’t the seats towards the front recline more than those towards the back? If you like lying down (or want to take a nap) go for the front. If you’re worried about falling asleep, sit closer to the back.

Yeah, I agree.
I’m a big fan of the Dark Skies Initiative. It sets my teeth on edge whenever I see some building or sign pointlessly floodlit.