The Physics and Astronomy Department hosts a digital planetarium located in room 112 Kinard Laboratory of Physics. The planetarium is equipped with a highly advanced, full dome digital theater system, the Digistar 4. The new theater system, installed in 2011, has redefined what's possible in a digital planetarium with its advanced user interface, enhanced real-time rendering capabilities, and high definition full dome video playback. With Digistar 4, the planetarium operators have a wide range of storytelling tools available to customize presentations for any audience.
Normal operations began circa September 1961 and since that time, operators have entertained more than 4000 visiting groups. Topics covered during a typical presentation can be found on the show topics page. The computer interface allows the operator to project a large number of astronomical objects on the dome with ease. Upon a visitor's request, an operator can fly the audience through Saturn's rings, take them to see other stars in the Milky Way Galaxy up close, or fly to other galaxies or clusters in the distant universe. Additionally, the planetarium can be used to teach audiences about what we see in the night sky, such as the planets and different constellations that can be seen throughout the year from different locations.
The planetarium is presently being operated on a volunteer basis. Both faculty members and graduate students are involved in the production of shows. During the academic year, public shows are held on a regular basis one night a week. Groups may also schedule a pivate show. For more information, please see our Planetarium Scheduling page.
Note: The Planetarium seats up to 40 visitors and can accommodate 2-3 wheelchairs.