In Theory: Get your head in the stars

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Architecture professor Joaquin Escamilla explains proportion to architecture freshman Jesse Gutierrez Tuesday west of Nail Technical Center. Escamilla's freehand drawing class was sketching Scobee Planetarium.

Architecture professor Joaquin Escamilla explains proportion to architecture freshman Jesse Gutierrez Tuesday west of Nail Technical Center. Escamilla’s freehand drawing class was sketching Scobee Planetarium.

Planetariums are used for shows projected onto a dome shaped theater.

Mandi Flores
sac-ranger@alamo.edu

A planetarium is a theater primarily built for presenting educational and entertaining shows about astronomy and the night sky.
One of its most prominent features is a large dome-shaped projection screen, where scenes of stars, planets, or other objects can move and appear realistically.
The domes of the planetariums range from three to 35 meters in diameter and can hold up to 500 people.
Many of these are used by schools with strong science programs.
“We go to the planetarium two times a semester,” Alfred Alaniz, astronomy professor, said. “There we can compress an entire year of data into minutes.”
This lets students watch a full season of the sky in minutes.
He referred to this college’s Scobee Planetarium, which has been closed since March 2012 for remodeling. It is expected to reopen in the middle of May as part of Scobee Education Center, which also will include the Challenger Center.
Scobee planetarium offered public showings on Fridays before remodeling. The date the shows will begin again is still being decided.
“After the remolding we will have one of the newest planetariums in Texas,” Alaniz said.
Other uses for the planetariums are “compressing astronomical phenomena, going to other moons and other planets, or any location on earth,” Alaniz said.
The primitive planetarium device is attributed to scientist and mathematician Archimedes recovered in the early 1900s.
This was the first device that could predict the movements of the sun and the moon.
Planetariums are also used for entertainment purposes, which include laser shows accompanied by music.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami starts the night with a star show, telescope observation in the observatory followed by laser music shows with a variety of artists.
For more information on planetariums, visit www.ips-planetarium.org.

CUTLINE: Architecture freshman Jesse Gutierrez sketches Scobee Planetarium Oct. 2002 west of Nail Technical Center. File

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