Planetarium preview is in mid-October; entire center reopens on Halloween.
By Katherine Garcia
After two years of construction and delays, the Scobee Education Center is expected to open on Halloween.
The center’s opening has been repeatedly pushed back because construction debris prevented new technology and computers from being moved, said Rick Varner, director of the Scobee Education Center.
The center was named for Lt. Colonel Francis Richard “Dick” Scobee, an alumnus of this college who died piloting the shuttle Challenger in 1986.
The shuttle broke up 73 seconds after its launch because of an O-ring seal failure and crashed over Cape Canaveral, Fl.
The San Antonio College Planetarium was rededicated The Scobee Planetarium in 1994.
Recently, the planetarium and Challenger Learning Center received a name change: the Scobee Education Center houses the Scobee Planetarium and the Challenger Learning Center.
According to the Scobee Education Center website, the Scobee Planetarium has served thousands of residents during the past 50 years.
The previous opening of Oct. 3 was pushed back because the Challenger Mission Control and Space Station modules were not ready from the manufacturer in Washington, D.C., said Bob Kelley, coordinator of the Scobee Planetarium.
“It’s the first of its kind,” he said.
Kelley said the telescope is also being repaired, so it might not be accessible by the time the planetarium will be open for the Oct. 17 preview during SACtacular.
Varner said technology such as iPads, computers, and theatrical lighting will be moved and installed starting Oct. 6.
Ceiling fixtures, such as lights, and air conditioning parts also had to be moved and replaced, he said.
Most of the planetarium and the teaching staff are ready, Varner said.
“Everybody is involved in fine-tuning the parts they’re supposed to.”
Other installations include solar panels for the roof of the Scobee and the bus shelters outside the center near Lot 21.
Sunscreens will also be installed to cover the outside windows facing Candler Physical Education Center.
“Sunscreens help keep the building cool without obstructing views,” Varner said.
For those who can’t wait for the official opening, a preview of Scobee Planetarium will be during the SACtacular Block Party 5-10 p.m. Oct. 17 in the mall.
The event is free and open to the public.
The planetarium will be accessible through the north entrance by the chemistry and geology building, and areas past the lobby will be restricted.
The entirety of Scobee Education Center will be open noon-6 p.m. Oct. 31.
A 7 p.m. star party is on the roof and terrace on the west side of the center.
Starting Nov. 1, guests can view stars on the ceiling of the planetarium’s dome.
“You can basically look at the sky right now and turn off the sun,” Varner said.
He said guests could view the sky and stars above any place in the world in the present and the past, such as their birthday.
Starting Oct. 31, admission is free for students and staff of this college with a college ID and $4 for students and staff at other Alamo Colleges as well as students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
There is a $5 charge for everyone else.
The planetarium’s regular hours will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m Monday-Friday.
For more information on the planetarium, go to www.alamo.edu/main.aspx?id=4384.