This blog documents the renovation of Strickler Planetarium over the first half of 2008. It originally appeared at Strickler Skyblog.
The dome has been completely cleaned and painted, thanks to the good folks from Ash Enterprises. The new grey color seemed a bit jarring at first, but once the dome was completed it looked (looks) great. (Digital projectors require domes with a lower reflectivity than opto-mechanical projectors, thus the grey color instead of a white.) And the cleaning took years of dust off the dome. It looks thirty years younger . . .
Well, I guess we’ve passed the point of no return here at Strickler Planetarium. The workers from Ash Enterprises arrived this Sunday to begin disassembling our star projector and console. The work went so quickly that I didn’t have time to snap any pictures until they were completely gone. Now the salvageable pieces have been boxed up and mailed off, and the non-salvageable pieces have been thrown away. Campus workers also came in and removed the old carpet and the shelf that ran along the bottom of the dome and held the now-unnecessary slide projectors. They also began putting up the cabinets in the workroom. (It’s been a busy couple of days.) The workers from Ash remain and are currently cleaning and painting the interior of the dome.
Next on the list of things to do is install the new carpet and the seats before the new star projector arrives. But first . . . tonight’s lunar eclipse!
The workroom is the behind-the-scenes ‘brain’ of the planetarium. It’s where shows are developed and where most of the multimedia equipment and supplies are housed. It’s a part of the renovations that won’t be apparent to casual planetarium visitors but will definitely be of great help to the operators. Here are some images of what’s happening now. All the old countertops and carpet have been ripped out, and the new cabinets have been brought in and are ready to put into place. The outer wall of the room will have cabinets and two computer work stations. The inner wall will be kept empty and will be where the servers for the new digital projector are placed.
Here’s an article that was in yesterday’s Kankakee Journal about me and the planetarium. I wish they would have talked more about the planetarium renovations themselves, but they’ll do more about that when renovations are complete and we reopen this summer. This article should stay available on the Journal’s online website for the next seven days: http://daily-journal.com/archives/dj/display.php?id=413063. The photo was taken in one of the planetarium’s outer corridors in front of a collection of sky survey plates.
Before I had even gotten here, the old bench-style chairs had been removed from beneath the dome and stacked neatly in the corridors of the planetarium. As far as I know, these are the original seats from when the building was constructed in 1967. They’re still in good shape, and they’re pretty comfortable for lounging (though people often complained of their necks when viewing shows). They needed a new home. With that in mind, and the feeling that the students on campus might like to own a bit of Olivet’s history, my TAs and I posted a few flyers around campus advertizing them for sale. (I touted them as “out-of-this world comfort and style for the distinguished apartment or dormroom”.) I also advised that they would be on sale at the planetarium Friday (today) from 3 o’clock until 5.
When I left my lecture at 2:50, there was already a crowd at the doors. I slipped in the back door, did a quick tally of the seats available, and opened the doors just a couple minutes before 3. Less than ten minutes later the seats were gone. I hope they’ve found good homes.
The first, or ‘ripping up’, phase of the renovations here at Strickler is nearing completion. We have removed all the seats from under the dome and taken down many of the slide projectors. The old workroom is nearly cleared out as well and awaiting its new makeover. The photos below should give a better idea of exactly what’s going on. It’s messy work, and the planetarium is in kind of sad shape, but it’s exciting as well. This is Strickler’s first major renovation in forty years!
We started with the workroom, clearing out forty years’ worth of planetarium paraphenalia accumulation. The old countertops will be taken out to make room for new counter space, cabinets, and computer work stations. The servers from the new digital projection system will also be back here.
Here’s the view from under the dome. We’ve taken out the seats (which will be sold to students). The old seats were concentric benches and seated about eighty. The new seats will be individual and epi-centric (semi-circular) and will seat about forty. What we’re losing in numbers we hope to gain in comfort and ease of viewing. You can also see in this shot the edge of the old projector pedestal and the assorted slide projectors of which we’ll no longer have need. I’m not too sorry to see them go . . .
Here’s a view of our current (inverted) star projector, an opto-mechanical Spitz A4. It’s been a trusty beast, but it’s time for it to go. The Digistar system we will be purchasing has the capacity for working around star projectors, but the Spitz is so tall as to make this difficult. It will go to the company we’ve contract with to remove it.
That’s all for now. I’ll continue to post photos as events accelerate.
This is the official planetarium weblog for the Strickler Planetarium on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University. The planetarium is closed for renovations this semester, but this site will remain up-to-date with images and updates from the renovation process as well as periodic posts of interest regarding any astronomical happenings. The look of the site itself will be modified presently. Please bookmark this page, check back for updates, and help us count down to the unveiling of the completely new Strickler Planetarium!