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Log, Jun 20, 2001

The dream of having a Sky Theater took a substantial step forward when the Board of the Frosty Drew Memorial Fund authorized enough funds to have architectural plans drawn up. Sky Theaters are hybrid partaking of attributes of a traditional planetarium, a classroom, and an ad-tech auditorium electronically linked to our Observatory.

Having a Sky Theater will allow us to resolve many of the problems which have always beset the Observatory.

Weather restricts us to clear nights. We must warn all visiting organizations (scouts, school groups, nature clubs and others) that we are open "weather permitting".

Some visitors find star and constellation recognition difficult or impossible outdoors. A star pattern easily recognized by most people can be all but meaningless to a significant minority.

Many modern presentations require a projection theater. Films, computer simulations, videos and slide shows are possible in neither a dome nor outdoors (in poor weather).

Certain events (such as the Moon occulting a planet or a star) can only be seen by a single person at the eyepiece.

Inherently a telescope in a dome presents obstacles to physically handicapped individuals.

The attached image is an early concept of what the Sky Theater may be. What we envision is a Sky Theater with a nearly flat screen tilted 45 degrees in front and above the viewer's line of sight. Projectors for slides, videos, PCs and CCDs will provide the required tools. The Sky Theater would be built as a wing to our existing Nature Center building. The unusual position of the screen allows the projection of star patterns approximately as the viewer will see them outside. Visitors with deficits perceiving spatial relationships will not be faced with the daunting task of mentally inverting images from something at eye level or below to something above their heads. Our simulations on a cathedral ceiling have shown this above eye level projections to be very effective. A four season building will allow us to host groups without concern for the weather. Links to the Observatory will allow shared view of events like occultations and eclipses. Easy ramp access will allow handicapped individuals to participate fully in our observations.

We have contacted an architect who genuinely seems interested in our project. We will need full plans before we can proceed to the next stage of funding.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jun 20, 2001
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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