Scobee Planetarium opening delayed again

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The renovated Scobee Education Center will employ work-study students from this college in a gift shop and ticket booth. Photo by Riley Stephens

The renovated Scobee Education Center will employ work-study students from this college in a gift shop and ticket booth. Photo by Riley Stephens

By M.J. Callahan

mcallahan7@student.alamo.edu 

The middle of May is the earliest the Scobee Planetarium could reopen, academic coordinator Bob Kelley said March 25.

The planetarium has been undergoing remodeling since 2012. The new Challenger Center housed in the Scobee Education Center is expected to open Oct. 11.

Because of delays in construction, the opening dates continue to get postponed.

The planetarium was expected to reopen in December 2013, but multiple delays were documented on the planetarium’s Facebook page maintained by Kelley.

The planetarium will resume its weekly public shows over the summer. Kelley said friends of the planetarium on Facebook are eager for the return of the weekly shows.

Expectations were for an opening date in February and then “early spring.” Most recently, it was reported Feb. 26 the planetarium would open in April or May.

Gary Verlinden, project manager for Parsons Corp., which is working on the project, said in a construction meeting March 25 that the latest update would allow an opening in the middle of May, Kelley said.

He listed several items that have been completed.

The screen for planetarium shows was put in place Jan. 31 by Spitz, the company that manufactured it. It is designed to give the audience a full 180-degree view.

Kelley said the planetarium’s new theater seats were installed Feb. 22 and 23. They allow every seat to be the best seat in the house, he said.

Kelley said the Digistar was checked March 12, after being in storage for two years with no major damage.

The Digistar, known as the heart of the planetarium, is a digital theater system that shows a series of programs and offers a full dome video projection.

Before the planetarium can open, however, it needs an inspection of the fire alarms and restrooms, and an occupancy permit needs to be issued.

Tim Rockey, dean of continuing education and workforce training network, said the request for the occupancy permit will be filed for May.

Ticket prices and show times are still being decided.

The Scobee Education Center is scheduled to have two separate opening events, one for the planetarium and one for the Challenger Center.

For more information, look at www.facebook.com/scobeeplanetarium.

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