Grand Rapids Public Museum's Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium reaches for the stars with $1.2M overhaul

The Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium inside the Grand Rapids Public Museum is one of the museum's most popular attractions. Besides making learning about earth science and space exploration a heck of a lot of fun, the planetarium has entertained thousands with its Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and winter holiday laser light shows.

A planned $1.2 million renovation of the planetarium will ensure that the technology and environment is state-of-the-art to keep crowds entertained for years to come, says Kate Moore, director of public relations. Up until 5 p.m. on Sept. 14, visitors will have a last chance to see their favorite shows before the planetarium closes for five months for the renovation. The renovated space will open in February 2014.

The renewed planetarium will have the latest Digistar projection equipment with HD technology, a spectrum of new software that will enable planetarium staff and university/college students to write new astronomy shows, as well as new reclining seating.

"Right now, the Digistar equipment is outdated by three or four versions, and we're finding it difficult to find new shows that will run on the older equipment," Moore says. "With our high definition programming, we're hoping to form partnerships with local universities and physics departments so students can come in and create their own shows."

Moore says that, because many of the shows, including the laser light programs, were created in-house with the old Digistar capabilities, those shows will not work with the new technology. The plan is to create new shows to entertain audiences and to keep people coming back for more. In the meantime, a full schedule of the favorites will run until Sept. 14 so everyone who wants to see them before they're done will have the opportunity.

Click here for the planetarium schedule.

Source: Kate Moore, Grand Rapids Public Museum
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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