Spitz Junior Planetarium

This is a plastic pinhole planetarium suitable for home or classroom use. The base is marked: “SPITZ JUNIOR / PLANETARIUM / HARMONIC REED CORPORATION / ROSEMONT PENN. / U.S. PAT. / NO. 2,632,359 / OTHER PATS PENDING.” Similar information appears on the cardboard box holding the device as well as on the accompanying pamphlet by Armand Spitz, How To Use, Have Fun With, and Learn From the Spitz Junior Planetarium (1954).
The Spitz Junior was developed by two Pennsylvania entrepreneurs. One was Armand Spitz who had previously developed a projection planetarium for public use. The other was Thomas Liversidge, proprietor of the Harmonic Reed Corporation, a firm that produced musical instruments and toys. While Spitz held the basic patent, Liversidge and his engineers figured out how to manufacture the instrument.
The first advertisements for the Spitz Junior appeared in early 1954 and the instrument was manufactured until about 1972. Altogether, over a million were produced.
Ref: Armand Spitz, “Planetarium,” U.S. Patent 2,632,359 (1953).
Jordan Marché. Theaters of Time and Space. American Planetaria, 1930-1970 (Rutgers, 2005), chapter 5, “Armand N. Spitz and Pinhole Style Planetaria.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
Spitz Junior Planetarium
Date made
Harmonic Reed Corporation
Spitz, Armand
Liversidge, Thomas
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
overall: 36 cm x 19 cm x 19 cm; 14 3/16 in x 7 1/2 in x 7 1/2 in
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Lower Merion Township, Rosemont
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Visitor Comments

7/19/2013 10:09:12 AM
I had one of these as a child and I loved it and used it for many years. Eventually I cannibalized the globe, bulb and support rod, combined it with pieces from my erectors set and a wooden box as a base and won a science fair with it turned into a full function projector with sun, moon, 3 planets, daylight lamps and even a cloud projector all in one unit! No motors, however... I still had to turn everything by hand. Too bad toys like this [and the all steel erector set ] don't seem to be very popular or generally available anymore to spark creativity the way they did with me.
7/19/2013 10:09:35 AM
Spitz Junior Planetarium (id 5888) State or Country: ohio Message: I spent many evenings looking at the constellations on my bedroom ceiling, using my Spitz Junior Planetarium. I still have it, although the globe has cracked around the bottom, and it still lights up!
5/4/2014 6:02:59 PM
I have a lapel pin from the Junior Planetarium Association, the fan club sponsored by Harmonic Reed Corp, which includes a rendering of the Spitz, Jr.
1/4/2016 10:42:52 PM
george murphy
I have all three levels of this wonderful toy, which was copyrighted from 1954. The original had no pointer system. Later models added the pointer that drew its power from a separate outlet on the side of the unit. The final phase was an addition of several components that enhanced the experience. The company was based in Rosemont - a suburb of Philadelphia. One might also recall a smaller, battery-operated model, too: "The Harmonic Reed Jr. Planetarium." I did have one of those, as well as the Southern Hemisphere sphere that was manufactured for those who lived in places like Australia and New Zeeland. I also own two older (non-working) Moonscopes from the same company.
4/26/2016 2:20:17 PM
Brian C
I have one in the basement that I got a kid..it still works but the rubber gasket around the globe has deteriorated badly and needs to be replaced. There are some interesting gaskets in the electrical department at home depot that should work. As fate would have it..I now work with a spitz a4 at the Horwitz planetarium in Waukesha, Wi. its a closed universe after all...lol
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