Tarleton’s Dr. Shaukat N. Goderya, director of Astronomy Education and Research, and Planetarium Manager Larry D. Barr have a lot to be excited about regarding the university’s Planetarium. It’s in the closing stages of a complete remodel from carpet and seats to state-of-the-art sound and projection equipment.
“We’re excited about the kinds of shows we’ll be able to provide. We think people will be pleasantly surprised at how different it is,” Goderya said.
Barr said the building was constructed in 2000 and the Planetarium was built as an integral part of it.
"We opened and started doing shows in January of 2001," Barr said. “The original technology consisted of a digital star projector, 18 slide projectors and two video projectors. The two video projectors were both aimed at the same spot that was just above the horizon in dome south, straight ahead of the audience.
“The digital star projector was state-of-the-art for the times but a little later Kodak stopped making them so if we had not known a guy who had a huge supply of spare parts and fixed projectors we would have been in deep trouble.
“We’ve been wanting to upgrade for several years and finally the money became available thanks to the efforts of Dr. Bert Little who is the director of the Center for Agricultural Excellence, and of course we’ve had the support of the president and the provost."
Barr said they are now moving into cutting edge technology.
“We’re going to have two 4K video projectors, high definition, high resolution. They will cover the entire dome with full motion video," he said. “We’ll be able to fly you through a galaxy or put you on the surface of Mars. The control system of this system is very advanced and you can operate it from an I-Pad.
“As far as what we’ll be able to do both from an entertainment level and an educational level, we’ve got a bunch of brand new tools here that are going to be really exciting.”
With the removal of the old star projector that had to sit directly under the center of the dome, as well as another console at the back, approximately 30 additional seats will be added.
The seating is plush and comfortable, the carpet has been redone and visitors to the Planetarium can look forward to not only a stunning display, but lots of comfort, too.
“We expect to be ready to open by the end of May. There will be a grand opening with the public invited,” said Goderya.