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Planetarium FAQs

How is this better than what we had?

Our old planetarium was vintage 1978. Although it still worked, it was no longer supported by the manufacturer and required nearly weekly maintenance. As the world converts to lower wattage LED lighting, fewer of the original incandescent light bulbs were available. While it gave a good approximation of the night sky, occasionally filters installed during manufacture over 35 years ago, would fall and be lost from the original hand-made star plates and so, instead of a fuzzy spot for a nebula or a star cluster, we would suddenly see a non-existent supernova. Advancements in digital planetarium technology since 1980 have allowed us, through accurate databases, to reflect the near future of our burgeoning Space Age by simulating flights of fancy off planet Earth and to travel to virtually any part of the known
universe.

Why are planetariums important?

It has been said by some that the best hope for the future of life on our home planet is for human beings to eventually leave it. While that day is several decades (if not centuries) in the future, the population continues to rise and urban sprawl brings with it the trappings of city life including street lights and business lights. The importance of teaching about the universe beyond (which is so seldom seen by today’s city dwellers) grows proportionately. Our new planetarium will have the ability to simulate space travel and thus help our visitors to understand our place in space, the fragile nature of our environment, and maybe even imagine becoming citizens of the universe. Also as there are adjustments in official standards of learning, the capabilities of our digital system will make it possible to better serve schools in our region through programming that aligns to those ever-changing strands.

Where are the next closest ones?

Comparable digital planetariums nearby:

Comparable Hybrid (utilizing both digital and optical/mechanical projectors) planetarium:

What did you do with the old projector?

The old projector was too large to store as a whole in the climate-controlled conditions that it required. So, except for a major iconic part (the northern Star ball) to be displayed at a later time, it was dismantled and recycled. 

I heard you had a fire. What happened?

During planetarium renovation work March 18, 2015, flammable material caught fire. No one was hurt and the fire department quickly contained the fire. The flammable material has been removed.

What is the diameter and height of the dome?

  • Dome is 50 feet in diameter. 
  • Top of dome (the Zenith) is 32’ 6” off-of-floor. 
  • Screen area is 3, 925 sq. ft, making it the largest projection screen in Memphis.

How may seats will you have?

Previously capacity was 130 fixed seats. The new renovated planetarium increases that number by 15 seats. We now have 145 fixed seats and an additional 5 spaces for wheelchairs.

What accommodations are you making for ADA compliance?

Our sound system will include hearing assist capability through ten USL, Inc. Model UPC -28C personal wireless headsets and 2 receivers (see description below). In addition (although it is not required) we plan to have full scripts available for each program, so that any profoundly deaf visitor may be able to follow along with the visuals of any prerecorded program. 

Infrared Headphone Transmission System UPC

USL’s Infrared system is designed to fill a lifetime void… intelligible, clear sound for thousands of the hearing impaired. The self-contained unit installs in the front or back of the auditorium using a removable mount system and is easily transported to each theatre as needed. Headphone receivers will work in any auditorium with no need for different frequency receivers unlike F.M. systems.

  • No R.F. interference problems of crosstalk
  • Headsets are compatible with most other infrared systems
  • Designed for low distortion and high clarity
  • Low voltage combined Emitter/Modulator Panels require no high voltage AC wiring
  • Modulation LED meter for accurate level calibration
  • Input range 100mV, to 20 Vrms

How many ADA compliant spaces to position a wheelchair to see a show?

Previously we had 4 assigned wheelchair spaces. We will now have 6 wheelchair locations, for a net increase of 2 locations.

What is the manufacturer and model of the digital projection system (DPS)?

The Digital planetarium system is a SUPERMEDIAGLOBE II manufactured by the Konica Minolta Planetarium Co., LTD in Tokyo, Japan and installed by Magna-tech Electronic Company in Miami. Florida.

What are the Digital Projector's technical specifications?

The projected image is 2400 pixels in diameter, placing more than 4.5 million pixels on the dome. The software generates real-time simulations of the cosmos as seen from Earth or anywhere in the known universe. It not only simulates space travel but can simulate time travel as well by showing how the night sky changes over 1 million years in the past and up to 1 million years into the future.