Originally constructed in 1969 as a joint venture of the El Paso Public Schools (now EPISD), the National Science Foundation, and the Woman's League of El Paso, and built adjacent to the offices of the EPISD, the Roddenberry has presented the wonders of our cosmos to over 2 million visitors from all over the El Paso region. For its time, the planetarium was cutting edge, with 120 reclining upholstered seats and a 40-foot dome, and the best Spitz analog star projector that money could buy.
About that Name: The Roddenberry
For years, the planetarium still had no "official" name, other than "The Planetarium." A group of EPISD employees petitioned the school board to change the name to “The Gene Roddenberry Planetarium" after learning the WWII flying ace and creator of the Star Trek universe was born in El Paso, in 1921 in what we now call the “Five Points” area.
Gene Roddenberry had a distinguished career as a television and movie writer and producer. He was the first writer to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was the recipient of the Emmy and Hugo awards. He passed away in 1991.
In 2001, the EPISD dedicated the planetarium in Roddenberry's honor. Since then, the "Planetarium" has been the "Gene Roddenberry Planetarium" or as we call it today, "The Roddenberry."
A 21st Century Planetarium for 21st Century Students
In 2009, the planetarium finally said goodbye to its original analog Spitz star projector and hello to the digital age with a new DigiStar digital projector system. The new projector system allowed for a completely new experience for the visitors to the planetarium immersing them in total, 360-degree experience unavailable anywhere else in the El Paso area. The DigiStar system is used to this day to teach and entertain visitors to The Roddenberry.
In 2019, the EPISD partnered with the city of El Paso to update The Roddenberry. The city and school district dedicated funds to upgrade a small elementary school gymnasium to a state-of-the-art planetarium, with improved acoustics, lighting, seating, and sound. Now located in northeast El Paso on the grounds of the former Crosby Elementary at 5411 Wren, The Roddenberry opens in 2021 to help teach and entertain the next generation of learners.
Past Planetarium Managers:
Rich Calvert 1969-1975
John Peterson 1975-2009
Cory Stone 2009-2017
Evelyn Maldonado 2017-2021
Tim Holt 2021-Present