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Chemeketa Planetarium is equipped with new technology

Dean Kelly, a projectionist with the Planetarium, prepares for Friday night’s show “Two Small Pieces of Glass” in Bldg. 2-171.

Dean Kelly, a projectionist with the Planetarium, prepares for Friday night’s show “Two Small Pieces of Glass” in Bldg. 2-171.

By Joshua Wood – Photo by Brad Bakke

The Chemeketa Planetarium has gone digital.

The aging planetarium equipment that has been in use since plaid bell-bottom pants were in style now has new, digital company.

“Our old shows were all 35mm slides,” Dean Kelly, who has been with Chemeketa’s planetarium for nearly a decade, said. “The problem is, the places that make planetarium shows don’t make 35mm slides anymore.”

Planetariums have all gone to digital, he said, “so this is a way we can keep up and keep doing shows.

“I’m really excited about it because this just expands our possibilities.”

Kelly said the reactions to the new show with the new equipment from those who had seen the previous shows were positive.

Former student Samantha Hays said, “It was pretty excellent,” she said. “The graphics were really beautiful, and the quality made the show really clear too, so it felt like you were there.

“I went to last term’s show and fully enjoyed it. It was great. But again, with the new show, it fills up the whole dome so everywhere you look, there’s something new to see. The images were spectacular.”

In upcoming seasons, the shows will likely include a trip to the rings of Saturn and lessons about light pollution, Kelly said.

The new technology will only compliment and not supersede the old projector, which has been in use since the planetarium was built in the 1970s.

“The star projector – we will always use that because what you can do with that is so much better than what you can do with this,” Kelly said. “You cannot project black. You’re still projecting light; it’s just not as much light. This allows us to have something that looks a lot more like the real night sky.”

The planetarium is running the current show, “Two Small Pieces of Glass,” at 7:30 p.m. every Friday night through May 29 in Bldg. 2-171.

Seating is limited to 60 people, so you are encouraged to show up early.

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