Rob Walrecht Productions
Nobody could run a publishing company by himself. Although RWP exists thanks to the designs and work of Rob Walrecht, he is strongly supported by his wife Marja and his sons Lars (born 1981) and Sven (1984). The four of them have personally assembled both parts of all of the thousands of planispheres that were produced since 1993! The boys are now men, and have their own life. Our friend Anneke now does the assembling work.
For a Press Release about the 30th anniversary of our company, see this.
Rob Walrecht was born on 16 June 1959 in Den Helder, The Netherlands. Teaching is his ruling passion, as is clearly proven by his curriculum vitae. From the age of eight he wants to be a school teacher. His instructive, informative and creative abilities are visible at a young age.
In 1976 he becomes a member of a local astronomy club - Zenit - in his home town Den Helder. Rob develops his present specialties here: astronomy, space flight and planetary exploration. Beside these sciences he has more general knowledge of the other natural sciences. Ever more important here is the theory of evolution, because of the many misunderstandings that exist. One of those misunderstandings is the widely spread opinion that it’s just a theory (the same as a hypothesis), while a theory according to good dictionaries is "a mental plan or systematic set of principles” that has been verified, has been shown to fit the facts and has stood up against attempts to prove it false.
His enormous imagination enables him to fathom difficult concepts and translate these into “papers and talks” that are accessible to everyone.
He is co-founder (1983) and a kind of managing director of Cosmogram, an active non-profit organisation in the field of popularising space flight, astronomy and particularly planetary exploration. The main activities were the publication of over 90 slide sets and many booklets. Through this work Rob gets excellent contacts with experts and organisations in the Netherlands and abroad. Cosmogram becomes a household name in space flight-loving Holland, culminating in the production of hundreds of thousands of slides and hundreds of lectures and other presentations. And the creation of special instructive tools, like a Solar System “3D” scale model of 640 m length (scale 1:10 billion).
Zeiss Planetarium Amsterdam
In 1982 Rob joins the production team of the new Zeiss Planetarium in Amsterdam. His tasks are (among others) the production of planetarium shows (audiotape, slides, special effects, and co-direction) and ‘live’-presentations (a total of some 600 presentations). Here he also designs his first planisphere.
Apollo Reizend Planetarium
In 1985 he starts his own, unique “Apollo Mobile Planetarium”, with a friend. It is a mobile planetarium with a 5 metre inflatable dome and mobile projection equipment. Its purpose: to provide astronomy lessons on the schools in Holland and Flanders, and also to provide an astronomical element for all kinds of events.
Rob is didactical, scientific and operational leader of this unique planetarium (as far as we know the first such project in the world!) and among other things creates all instruction materials that were specially designed to support the lessons. He adds a few thousand planetarium presentations to his name!
In 1982 Rob had designed his first planisphere, for the Zeiss Planetarium Amsterdam. In 1984 he starts designing his second version, this time to be published by his own company (founded 15 June 1985)
The design is, compared to other (foreign) planispheres, not only very accurate, but also in an esthetical sense revolutionary: in bright colours (a bright blue sky with a broken white/dark red upper disc). It is, just as the Zeiss Planetarium star dial, a planisphere for 52° north and 5° east, so especially designed for Holland and Belgium. Like the Zeiss Planetarium version it was made of thick plastic that unfortunately caused a very high production price. Around 1990, when Rob is not active with his own planetarium any more, sales plummet. By then not more than 3000 copies were sold.
1993 sees the publication of a new version. This design is still used for the PLN-NL. A major advantage of the four-page, square design is the space for two large pages with information about astronomy!
This new star wheel gets an enormous amount of press coverage: newspapers, radio and even a few TV programmes. A perfect re-start. Later new designs/products are added, like Dutch planispheres for latitudes in Europe ("Holiday planispheres") and English planispheres for latitudes from 30 to 60° north. Still later a German and a French version were added.
From 2000 onwards the design is completely re-done and improved, a process that is concluded in 2002. The drawing pen and “rub-off” letters are exchanged for the computer. The first planispheres for the southern hemisphere appear.
Meanwhile there are English planispheres for ten different latitudes (two of them combined in one version: the PLN-EQR!), that together cover the entire populated world, 65° north to 45° south! Besides Dutch and English planispheres, Rob Walrecht Production has produced German, French, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greenlandic, Romanian, Frisian and Turkish planispheres, while there are serious plans for Portuguese, Greek, Russian, Japanese and Chinese versions (the correct text is crucial for these projects, however!).
In 2002 two “build-it-yourself” cardboard products are released: a BIY star wheel and a BIY sundial. There are Dutch versions of both and English star wheels for 40° and 50° north, while the English sundial is for 50° north. A year later a very special scale model of the Solar System appeared: 16 cards with a wealth of information, which can be placed or hung at the correct scale distances to form a unique scale model, 64 metres long. Again, an English version was also published, along (this time) with a third one for the US market (with respect to the different measuring units used there)
In the meantime the number of customers for a customised (or personalised) version grew larger and larger. Every organisation or company can have a ‘Rob Walrecht’ planisphere (or set of planispheres) with their own log and address information, their own text if necessary and even in the colours, size and shape they prefer! Among these customers are renowned organisations like the Artis Planetarium Amsterdam, the London Planetarium, The Open University, La Maison de l'Astronomie in Paris, La Maison de l'Astronomie in Montréal, and dozens of other organisations.
The only one...
We have now (September 2016) produced almost 300,000 planispheres! Rob Walrecht Productions is the first and only company in the world that offers planispheres for the entire populated world
!* And also the only company in the world specialised in designing customised planispheres and other products, for planetariums, museums and amateur organisations, but also professional astronomical institutes and even non-astronomical customers (as exclusive business gifts).
*) with English planispheres for latitudes 60°, 50°, 40°, 30°, 20° north, a combined planisphere for 10° north and 10° south (our Equatorial Planisphere, PLN-EQR), and 20°, 30° and 40° south
In 2006 Rob started to write and illustrate three (Dutch!) astronomy books. They are written is his own, unique style which is kind of 'universal' in the sence that they van be read and understood (and appreciated!) by young people (from 8 to 10 years) as well as adults. The argument for this is that most people know as little as kids do (and what they know they learned at school), that everybody dislikes sentences that are too long and that everyone appreciates clear illustrations to allow a better insight and understanding of what is written. To make the books suitable for young people Rob avoided the use of needlessly 'difficult' words - but most adults don't like such words either!
After the series two books were published as they are important additions tot the series: Higgs gevonden!
) about the building blocks of matter and the decades long and very expensive search for this elusive particle, written in cooperation with Luc Hendriks; and De Oerknal en het uitdijend heelal
(The Big Bang and the expanding Universe
) which Rob wrote with Prof. Henny Lamers. The latter book was added as part 3 of the series, Genieten van het heelal
(Enjoying the Universe
), about stars, galaxies and the Universe, did not go that deep into the matter. Besides writer and illustrator, Rob was editor of both books.
This set-up and writing style of the books puts them in a very unique segment of astronomy books: not a simple book for youngsters, not a large complex book for people with a education in science, but a book that takes the youngster and the layman serious and explains everything from the bottom up! This is also why the books are perfect as books for astronomy courses.
With so many competition from English speaking authors it is necessary to have an English or American publisher to reach readers in other countries. Should you be a publisher or know one... please don't hesitate to let us know! See also below.
Products for education
As from 1986 Rob designed and published a number of 'build-it-yourself' models and instruments that are great tools for education. They were, however, not only made for youngsters, many adults have fun with these products!
The oldest are the BIY Star Wheel and BIY Sundial, which were first published in 1986 and 1987 respectively. They were re-designed a couple of times. In 2000, when Rob had discovered the workings of Illustrator with the help of his friend Wil Tirion
, he desgned a whole series of new BIY products. Just one of these was published, in 2003: the Solar System scale model. It was brought out in a Dutch version, as well as one in English with metric information, and one as a US version (with inches, miles, fahrenheit etc.). The Dutch model was a great succes and was re-done in 2015, as two sets of 16 cards. For the English and US models it turned out too difficult to sell without a reasonable sales network - i.e. a distributor in other countries.
Two of the most wonderful instruments, the Table Planetarium and Earth Moon Model, were - finally - published, also in 2015. The good thing was that 15 years later Rob had better ideas of how to design it and more skill to make it wonderful designs, although basically nothing had changed. See also here
for information about these new products.
Our company is not an international distributor. We don't have the means and skills. However, we have some wonderful (some unique!) products that have great potential when published in English and distributed professionally!
That could also mean a Complete Astronomy Set
, with books, planispheres, our BIY models and instruments and even posters!
So when you are a publisher, just contact us!