The first ever Queens planetarium will open in Astoria in 2026

Rejoice, Queens residents! 

New York State senate deputy majority leader Michael Gianaris just announced that Astoria will be home to a brand-new planetarium that will be built as part of an expansion of the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, the 67-year-old nonprofit community space that offers educational and artistic programs to kids of all ages.

As reported by Gothamist, “the institution is undergoing a complete renovation that will include a new zero-emissions building that will house the new planetarium.”

According to an official press release, the planetarium, which will cost $1 million to erect, will serve between 8,000 and 10,000 “young people” yearly and seat about 70 folks at once.

Construction is expected to begin some time in 2023 and be completed by 2026.

“I think it’s an opportunity to open kids’ minds in a way that growing up in New York City—for all its experiences—doesn’t normally offer,” Gianaris said to Gothamist. “Because the ambient light doesn’t really allow us to see any lights in the sky at night, now we’ll have an opportunity to have children experience that, look at it, and think about careers in science and astronomy for themselves.”

As for who will narrate the venue’s various feature programs, it’s all up in the air. But Gianaris did tell Gothamist that his “favorite suggestion so far” is the wonderful actor Christopher Walken because of his “very distinct voice” and, of course, his connection to Astoria. Did you know that his father Paul actually opened a shop called Ideal Bakery at 29-13 Broadway in the area back in 1931? Suddenly, we can’t imagine anyone else lending their talents to this exciting new cultural center. 

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