STEPHENVILLE (April 1 )—Stars will shine big and bright, day and night, deep in the heart of the Tarleton State University campus this spring, when the university planetarium reopens with digital high-definition technology.
Two projectors will cover the planetarium’s interior dome, which is 40 feet in diameter, with full-motion video of the night sky. Tarleton professors will transport students around the galaxy, zoom in on a celestial body and reveal it in full detail.
“The sensation of motion is so realistic that I’ve seen people grab onto the arms of their seats to hold on,” said Larry D. Barr, manager of Tarleton’s planetarium, as he explained the new state-of-the-art technology now being installed. “We’ll be showing a much more authentic portrayal of the night sky—visitors will actually be able to see the individual colors of the stars.”
Located in Tarleton’s Lamar Johanson Science Building, the planetarium is closed for remodeling. No shows will be offered on campus until the upgrade is completed in late spring or early summer.
The planetarium’s new high-definition technology will feature 4,000 lines of resolution per projection, which is higher resolution than most movies and closer in realism to watching Blu-ray discs, according to Dr. Shaukat Goderya, director of Tarleton’s Program for Astronomy Education and Research.
When Tarleton’s planetarium reopens, it will feature 10 different digital high-definition shows. Goderya and Barr said eventually more than 200 shows will be available to feature at the upgraded planetarium. They foresee the facility becoming a “visualization laboratory for any subject,” including biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, oceanography, weather and art.
“Old planetariums are very focused on astronomy,” Goderya said. “But we‘ll be able to offer content in other areas, with technology examining the crystalline structure of rocks or the makeup of DNA.”
Made possible by efforts of Dr. Bert Little, associate vice president for academic research, the new planetarium will meet the objectives of Tarleton’s Strategic Plan by providing innovative instructional delivery and learning environments.
Through continued community and student outreach, the planetarium’s programs encourage young people to pursue studies and careers in STEM disciplines, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“If you get students excited while they’re young, they stay that way,” said Barr.
The upgrade will add about 30 seats to Tarleton’s planetarium so it will accommodate up to 86 visitors per show. Barr invites students and visitors of every age to visit the planetarium when it reopens in the spring.
“Come experience the excitement on opening day,” he said.
For more information about Tarleton’s planetarium visit www.tarleton.edu/planetarium.