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January 19, 2014

Planetarium plans grand re-opening

COMMERCE —  Texas A&M University-Commerce recently performed the first major system upgrade of its planetarium since the building’s construction in 2005. The transition includes several modifications that will improve the quality and clarity of planetarium shows.

To celebrate, A&M-Commerce is planning a grand-reopening celebration on Jan. 31. According to Assistant Planetarium Director Dr. Cheri Davis, the event will feature the planetariums newest show, “Dinosaurs at Dusk.”

“We reserved this show specifically for our grand reopening,” she said. “The show was produced by Mirage 3D, who have superior quality and extremely detailed work.”

The event, which will run from 6 to 9 p.m., will be free of charge and will include a dinosaur fossil dig for children and demonstrations by physics graduate students, A&M-Commerce SPS members, as well as the planetarium staff.

“Dinosaurs at Dusk” will show at 6, 6:45, and 8 p.m. Drawings for door prizes will be held at 7:30 p.m. Prizes include an Astroscan Telescope, astronomy books, dinosaur books and games. Visitors must be present to win.

The upgrade from the Digistar 3 system to Digistar 5 includes an easier-to-use interface, according to Davis. While audience members may not notice the difference, the new interface will make it easier for presenters to run planetarium shows and for professors to teach astronomy classes.

“One of the new features we’re really excited about is built into the system,” Davis said. “With it, we can pull up any location on the earth and view a 3D model of the location. The public will also notice the resolution is quite a bit higher, and we have new projectors, which will again help with resolution.”

The entire project cost around $500,000 and the transition began at the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester. The planetarium was first open to the public in the fall of 2006. The planetarium is located on the A&M-Commerce campus, attached to the McFarland Science Building.

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