DOME WITH A VIEW – High-definition video of life on a coral reef fills the 30-foot expanse of Lake Superior State University's Benjamin Long Planetarium, located in Crawford Hall. The breathtaking all-dome projector debuts with public shows on Feb. 5 and 12 at 7 p.m. (LSSU/John Shibley)
A print-resolution photo that runs with the caption above can be found by clicking here.
by HELENA WOLLAN,
LSSU Public Relations Office
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - Lake Superior State University planetarium director Mary St. Antoine really wants you to see an exquisite all-dome projector in Crawford Hall's Benjamin Long Planetarium. She will debut this extravagant projector and its features during public shows on Feb. 5 and 12 at 7 p.m.
The new system — which dovetails with an existing star projector installed when the planetarium opened in the 1970s — essentially turns the planetarium's 30-foot dome into a theater with Imax-like capabilities.
"The system's spherical mirror casts high-definition video onto the entire dome," says St. Antoine. "Although the original star projector still provides a realistic night sky for any time of year, this full dome projector will give audiences an even greater experience that almost physically draws them into presentations."
The new projector can connect stars into constellations, zoom in for close looks at anything in the universe, share interpretive graphics, label names of the stars, and stream content from the Internet. It will also draw upon a library of high-definition science video shows.
The projector's first element is a surface mirror that came from Australia. The mirror makes a huge impact on the quality of the display. Alex Freds and the LSSU information technology department found a spare MacBook Pro laptop and came up with the idea of using Apple TV to run the projector and sound system.
“This made a tremendous amount of difference and made the production a lot smoother and easier,” St. Antoine says.
The effort also had help from maintenance department craftsman Frank Killips; student Alex Freds and network tech Mike Furr, both with information technology; and science students Coty Withorn — who recently graduated in geology — and Eric Johnston, an environmental science major who is also earning an associates degree in marine technology.
The planetarium plans to offer more public shows and programs tailored for K-12 kids enrolled in LSSU's Edventures summer camps. Upcoming programs will include not just sky shows, but topics that embrace a wide variety science.
“Lake State is an oasis of learning for the Eastern U.P. and Algoma region of northern Ontario," says St. Antoine. "The planetarium is one of the most wonderful things we have to offer, and hopefully the addition off a dome theater will help promote it to the public.”
The inaugural show, Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope, explores the wonder and discovery made by astronomers over the last 400 years. The show traces the history of the telescope from Galileo's modification of two small pieces of glass, to the launch of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the future of astronomy. A nominal cover charge of $2 for adults and $1 for children will be collected at the door.
To book a group planetarium visit, contact St. Antoine at firstname.lastname@example.org or 906/635-2075.
CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; Mary St. Antoine, Benjamin Long Planetarium, e-mail, 635-2075.