On September 6th 1975, the biggest Planetarium with public observatory in Bulgaria opened its doors in the town of Smolyan. Smolyan is a tourist center in the West Rhodopes lying 800 m above sea level, near the famous Bulgarian winter resort of Pamporovo. The Planetarium is the town's most frequently visited place of interest. For the past 40 years it has been visited by 2,750,000 people. The planetarium and observatory complex works with no day off and has a staff of 10 people.
In order to popularize astronomical knowledge the Planetarium offers more than 50 lecture shows in the Star Hall. Some popular tales are made into children's shows while for the general public there are topical astronomical and special shows. Some of the general shows have been translated for foreigners.
The Planetarium works with students from all forms of the Bulgarian school, as well as with preschool children. A lot of educational lectures related to the school studies in Astronomy, Physics, Geography are worked up and delivered here. There are also groups of students fond of astronomy called "Students'Creative Groups", permanently participating in the planetarium activities. These students are organized in a Youth's Astronomical Club. Three camp-schools are organized for these students in summer in the Planetarium and in the region of the National Astronomical Observatory, Rozhen. The students from Youth Astronomical Club observe and make photos of astronomical events such as solar activities, passages, conjunctions, moon and solar eclipses, meteors, etc.
The Planetarium also works with the Physics and Geography students and with teachers from the region. Lots of students' check-up tests and methodology materials are worked out for them and training seminars are organized.
The research activity is in accordance with the technical means. A Sun's patrol has been acting here for more than 30 years now. It makes visual drawings and takes pictures of the spots making activity of the Sun's photosphere each sunny day. Since 1990 there has been established a collaboration with Sunspot Index Data Center in Brussels. We send there our monthly observations of sunspots.
The Planetarium works actively on the visual and photographic recording of all solar and lunar eclipses and other astronomical phenomena observed in Bulgaria (see our GALLERY). Some of the photographs are unique in Bulgaria.
A considerable number of archival materials have been gathered. The Planetarium specialists examine also the astrnomical knowledge kept by the old people in the Rhodopes region. During its existence of thirty years the Smolyan Planetarium has set up its own specific style of working and has won recognition both in our country and abroad.
The Planetarium is a member of The Planetary Society, Pasadena, California; IPS etc.