Boise State’s Physics Department is raising funds to purchase an inflatable, mobile planetarium to support the department’s regional public outreach program. The magic of stepping into a planetarium for the first time is unlike any other astronomical encounter. With the click of a button, a planetarium operator can re-create the night sky in ways impossible in real life, giving an unforgettable experience for children and adults alike. Portable digital planetariums are state of-the-art, providing crisp imagery and animations, and their portability allows a much broader reach than fixed installations.
WHAT KIND OF PLANETARIUM?
The planetarium would consists of an inflatable tent dome and a projector kit.
The dome comes from Go-Dome, an industry-leading planetarium manufacturer (www.go-dome.com). The dome is inflated with a large fan and could accommodate about 30 visitors, including those needing handicap accessibility. The projector kit involves a standard, off-the-shelf project with a specialized but off-the-shelf mirror. This set-up provides all the functionality of a commercial, digital planetarium projector but at a fraction of the cost and is based on a kit developed by the University of Washington’s Astronomy Department.
HOW WOULD THE PLANETARIUM BE USED?
Idaho is blessed with unusually dark skies and hosts the only gold-star certified International Dark Skies Reserve in the United States (www.idahodarksky.org). Located in central Idaho, the Reserve constitutes a collective commitment by communities, public land managers, and private landowners to support a unique tourist and educational resource.
As part of its popular astronomy outreach effort, Boise State Department of Physics will partner with the Dark Skies Reserve and the Boise Astronomical Society to take the planetarium to schools, community centers, and public libraries across the state, especially in the reserve and other rural areas where STEM outreach is limited. We would work with the network community leaders already developed by Boise State Physics during the 2017 solar eclipse outreach.
MAKE A GIFT
Support the mobile planetarium by making a gift at give.boisestate.edu/astronomy.