Saturday, July 13, 2019


Meier studied mathematics in Leipzig and obtained his doctorate in 1968. He joined ZEISS Jena in 1958 and worked in the R&D department of the Astronomical Instruments Division right up to the end of his career in 1998. As well as taking on numerous responsibilities in the field of astronomical observation instruments, he was also engaged in fundamental R&D work in the field of projection planetariums. This led to innovative solutions such as algorithms for production processes, adjustments to the drive systems for planet, star field, constellation and didactic projectors, and advances in projector automation and operation. Meier made key contributions to the development of automatic control systems in their transition from purely mechanical analog systems and punched tape to full digital control systems.

He was heavily involved in the creation of the Spaceflight Planetarium – the first ZEISS planetarium system for medium-sized domes – and the large-dome COSMORAMA planetarium projectors. Thanks to his activities as a lecturer at the Jena Zeiss Planetarium between 1962 and 1985, he became familiar with the pros and cons of all the various ways of operating a planetarium projector. This led to the development of a new operating concept that continues to play a fundamental role in ZEISS planetarium control systems even today.

In the mid-1980s, Meier was the leading scientist in developing the fiber optic projector, thereby laying the foundations for a technical breakthrough in planetarium technology. Faced with the challenge of how to substantially increase the brightness of the projected stars without using a higher power lamp, the team came up with the concept of conducting light directly and separately to each individual star hole in the star field mask using optical fibers. Transforming this idea into a finished fiber optic projector took years of intensive development work, the most challenging aspect of which lay in the manufacturing technology. But the final results were well worth the effort: the new system not only boasted a hundred-fold increase in efficiency, it also made ZEISS planetarium projectors into a leading light in the industry.

In addition to his development work, Ludwig Meier also provided advice and on-site support to customers and service engineers all over the world. He is fondly remembered by users in the planetarium community, many of whom benefited from his professional advice on the handover of newly installed planetariums and his invaluable assistance in preparing the outlines of inaugural shows. His many and varied activities in the fields of planetarium development and applications have formed the subject of numerous publications. In 1992 Meier published his book "Der Himmel auf Erden" (Heaven on Earth), in which the planetarium expert, provided fascinating and immensely valuable insights into the history of planetariums.

Dr. Ludwig Meier received the »Technology and Innovation Award« of the International Planetarium Society in 2014. It pays tribute to the exceptional achievements of an outstanding planetarium expert who has played a key role in the development of modern planetarium technologies at ZEISS.

His colleagues and many planetarians all over the world will always remember Dr. Ludwig Meier with his friendly, helpful and open nature.

The image shows Dr. Ludwig Meier with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the New York Hayden Planetarium at the final factory inspection of the ZEISS UNIVERSARIUM Mark IX for the American Museum of Natural History in 1999.

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