Now seats 194
RICHMOND, Ky. (May 22, 2015) — Grand re-opening ceremonies for Eastern Kentucky University’s Hummel Planetarium were held at the planetarium on Thursday.
In addition to featured programs, especially of interest to children, the upgrades provide a “sky” for the planetarium. At the conclusion of public shows and some showings for schools, planetarium manager James Hughes can now project that evening’s night sky, outline and label major constellations and planets, show orbit lines and even take guests on virtual trips to any destination with the click of a computer mouse.
“This allows astronomy classes at EKU as well as school groups and public groups to learn the constellations and better understand the motions we see in the sky, such as day/night and seasons,” said Dr. Anthony Blose, chair of EKU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. “There are all kinds of effects that the system will provide such as ‘fly-ins’ to places in the solar system and beyond. This would be possible only with the high caliber professional system that we had installed.”
Blose said a “reliable” planetarium sky is an “essential” component of any planetarium, whether a professor is conducting a university class or a K-12 teacher is hoping that certain science standards are covered. “This new system makes it possible to carry out that instruction more effectively.”
Hummel Planetarium’s new Definiti system utilizes a high-tech array of projectors and computers. Projectors, lenses, Definiti graphics computers, and DigitalSky software work in tandem to maximize image quality and performance, stitching high-resolution video streams into one seamless picture to immerse audiences in a 360-degree environment.
“This makes it possible to see the sky as it would appear from any planet or moon within our solar system, or any point in between,” Hughes said. “The full-dome video makes you feel like you’re right there.”
Additional seating has raised the planetarium’s capacity to 194, including more handicapped seating. Outside the viewing room, other improvements have added to the facility’s appeal.