es1702 — Organisation Release

Mayan Archaeoastronomy: New Free Planetarium Show

Visually stunning fulldome show explores astronomy and mythology

6 July 2017

ESO is proud to announce the release of the English version of Mayan Archaeoastronomy: Observers of the Universe, a brand new open-source planetarium show exploring six different Mayan archaeological sites and their connection to the Universe. The 20-minute show, produced by Frutos Digitales in collaboration with ESO and financed by the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico, premiered in Spanish at the Cha’an Ka’an Planetarium in Cozumel on 20 March 2017. This is the first show fully animated for fulldome made in Mexico, and it will be distributed freely to the more than 30 planetariums in Mexico as well as internationally through ESO’s online distribution network.

Mayan Archaeoastronomy: Observers of the Universe is unique among planetarium shows, intertwining science and mythology to take the viewer on a poetic journey through how the Mayans have viewed and understood the Universe throughout their history. The story is populated with vivid characters, including the Sun God Kin, who controls the cycle of life, Kukulcán, the feathered serpent who gives the Mayans time itself, and Balam, the jaguar who carries the stars on its skin. The visuals are stunning, giving the viewer the impression of being inside a beautifully stylistic painting. This artistic interpretation of the Universe makes for a journey that will not be forgotten.

This is the latest show to be added to ESO’s range of free high-quality planetarium materials produced by world-renowned astrophotographers, artists, technicians and musicians. Interested planetarium managers can download the show from the dedicated webpage. Versions with English, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese narrations are available. Supporting material is available in the form of posters, scripts and more.

The full range of free material for planetariums is available on the ESO Supernova website. This includes complete planetarium shows, almost 450 fulldome clips from the ESO and ESA/Hubble archives, 360-degree panoramas, a new music archive with almost 350 free music tracks, 3D models of everything from ESO telescopes to orbits within the Milky Way, and much more. These materials will be used in the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre in Garching, Germany, which will open in Spring 2018.

ESO Supernova is proud and excited to add the unique Mayan Archaeoastronomy: Observers of the Universe to our collection.

More information

The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre

The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre is a cutting-edge astronomy centre for the public and an educational facility, located at the site of the ESO Headquarters in Garching bei München. The centre hosts the largest tilted planetarium in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and an interactive exhibition, sharing the fascinating world of astronomy and ESO to inspire coming generations to appreciate and understand the Universe around us. All content is provided in English and German and entrance is free, but requires prior booking. For more details visit:

The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre is a cooperation between the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). The building is a donation from the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), a German foundation, and ESO runs the facility.

ESO Supernova is proudly supported by: Evans & Sutherland and Energie-Wende-Garching.


The Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS) was created in 1995 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015). It is one of Europe’s largest privately funded non-profit foundations. The Foundation promotes the advancement of the natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science, and strives to raise appreciation for these fields. The Foundation’s commitment begins in kindergarten and continue in schools, universities, and research facilities. The Foundation champions new methods of scientific knowledge transfer, and supports both development and intelligible presentation of research findings.


The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS gGmbH) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing large amounts of data. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.


ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.



Tania Johnston
ESO Supernova Coordinator
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 061 30
Cell: +49 170 867 5293

Oana Sandu
Community Coordinator & Communication Strategy Officer
Tel: +49 89 320 069 65

About the Release

Release No.:es1702


Mayan Archaeoastronomy Poster
Mayan Archaeoastronomy Poster

Also see our