state planetarium in franeker

The City of Franeker boasts the world’s oldest working planetarium. It was built in 1780 by Eise Eisinga, a simple wool comber but nevertheless an intellectually highly gifted individual with a keen interest in mathematics and astronomy.

On the ceiling of his living room Eisinga built a working model of our solar system with moving components. This is an engraving of his planetarium, with the planets and stars as they stood in the sky on March 25, 1850 at 7.30 a.m.

Rijks Planetarium te Franeker, litho van D. Heyse, 1851

From the box bed at the back of the room, Eisinga had a good view of his firmament. Much to the annoyance of Eisinga’s wife, the ticking pendulum clock that drove the whole system hung in the marital box bed …

In the operating manual Eisinga made for his sons he wrote: “If you maintain the machine according to these instructions, it will […] remain in working order for many years – if not generations – to come, at the expense of very little effort and money.” And, as the whole system is still working today, he could not have been more right!