How the Planetarium uses its dome to speak to St. Louis drivers

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – For decades, the James S. McDonnell Planetarium has been located in the southeast corner of Forest Park overlooking Interstate 64.

For almost that long, Planetarium officials have been using the structures unique form and prime location to speak to drivers.

First it was ribbons.   Then in 2002 they turned on the lights.  Those initial lights turned out to be much too expensive and inefficient.  So in 2013, they were replaced with a much more efficient LED light system capable of producing dazzling displays of light, pictures and even movies.

Today, the Planetarium celebrates everything from holidays and sports teams to special causes needing extra awareness.

All of us have likely seen these displays, but few of us know where it all began.

Turns out, this St. Louis tradition dates back to a college prank in the 1960s.  A group of Washington University architect students climbed up on the roof late one night and wrapped the building with a ribbon.  People loved it so much, that they demanded the ribbon return the following year.  A tradition was born.

Over the years the tradition has evolved to the vibrant displays we see today.  This week the Planetarium is lit up with bright blue and green lights in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

If you would like information about how to have your organizations colors displayed at the Planetarium, check out their webpage and click on the “Contact Us” link.