Astronomy department presentsplanetarium projector, Scidome

Kimberly Drybread

The Washburn University Astronomy department is proud to introduce a new digital planetarium projector.

” [Scidome will] allow Washburn students to see practical application of information they learn in the class,” said Brenda Culbertson, Washburn’s planetarium coordinator.

The department has been accepting donations for a projector for over a decade. Washburn’s old projector was a mechanical machine, which was in operation for 30 years. It was retired two years ago because of mechanical malfunctions. Because the new system runs off two computers and a fisheye lens projector, it’s not likely to break like the old projector. The computer software can also be updated when necessary.

” [The old projector] was horrible, [the new one] was different but a lot better,” said Derek Fuller, a student at Washburn.

Operation of the computer system requires a qualified, trained person. As of last July, Culbertson is the only person at Washburn that has had the training with Spritz. Spritz, the company that makes Scidome, was chosen because of its high-quality standard. It’s also one of the only companies that make projectors small enough for Washburn’s 20-foot diameter dome.

Scidome programming combines classic planetarium special effects, real-time astronomy and pre-recorded full-dome shows. Using Scidome’s programs and some pre-recorded shows, this machine can give the viewer access to our solar system, remote galaxies and 500 million sky objects. With Scidome, students can visit different constellations, and even move backwards or forwards in time.

Washburn’s system is one of the only ones of its kind to be used for educational purposes. Because the system is untried and new, even to the Spritz Company, it could have bugs in the system. Culbertson has agreed to beta test the system for Spritz and inform them when there are problems with the software. They hope to make Scidome more user-friendly and accurate.

The astronomy department is asking for donations for more comfortable chairs to sit in during the presentations. The current chairs are metal, which make it difficult, and even sometimes painful to see the whole dome. They hope to receive recliners to make the presentation more comfortable for viewers.

Astrology department students will not be the only ones who benefit from the projector. Private showings are available to parties of 10 or more, and children over six are welcome to attend. Please make reservations with Brenda Culbertson. Washburn would appreciate a $5 donation per group, which will offset operating costs.