by Abigail Megginson
Since 1993, the Planetarium has been one of the highlights of Pensacola State College. It has provided high quality educational video viewing experiences for viewers of all ages for 20 years. However, it’s due for a bit of a makeover. Billy Jackson, the Distance Learning Specialist at PSC spoke about the renovations the planetarium will go through during the next several weeks.
This project has been up and coming for about a year now. Jackson has been consulting Astrotech (the manufacturers of the dome) about exactly how to go about the refurbishing. The main agenda is to clean the overhead dome. It has not been cleaned in the 20 years it’s been here and needs to be vacuumed on both the exterior and interior sides. Jackson says the dome is made of perforated aluminum (similar to a screen door) with tiny holes that have collected dust over the years. All of that dust has to be removed by vacuums. They will also be adding thermal and acoustic insulation to increase the quality of the sound.
After the dome is vacuumed, it will need to be painted. This will improve the viewing quality of the shows. Jackson says, “When it’s painted, it’ll be like a brand new screen” To accomplish this, they must start from the top and work their way down. Scaffolding is required to reach the top of the dome, which is 30 feet high. To put in scaffolding, everything must either be moved out or covered up.
What’s going to be new about the Planetarium? The current seats are staying, but the configuration of the seating will be slightly reconfigured to give more viewers a “premium viewing experience.” Unlike now, the seating will have a center aisle to make the center seats more accessible. New carpet is going to be installed, and the console is going to be moved from the corner to the back middle area in the room.
Shows are scheduled for right after Thanksgiving, so expect the Planetarium to be up and running toward the end of this semester.