Saturday, January 30, 2016

The New Planetarium is Dope and Space is Terrifying

Posted By on Sat, Jan 30, 2016 at 12:19 PM

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Edit 1/30: The Pink Palace has confirmed that they are going to host live music in the Planetarium. "Space has no limits!" said Ronda Cloud, who handles publicity for the Museum. 

The day has come! The new Sharpe Planetarium, now known as the Autozone Dome, at the Pink Palace Museum is back in action. The old slide projectors are gone, replaced by digital "Full Dome" technology. In the place of the analog lighting effects is a more movie-like experience. 

This morning, a crowd of press, Mayor Jim Strickland, corporate representatives from Autozone and other private sponsors gathered for the grand opening of the new dome. The renovated planetarium is roomier, with a space near the the front of the theater that one of the presenters mentioned may be eventually used for live music. Hopefully this means more local multi-media performances — what could be cooler than opera or electronica or underground rap paired with star graphics? The planetarium manager also joked (I think it was a joke) that they could perform wedding ceremonies inside. 

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After a tour through some of the neater educational features of the new planetarium, all controlled by an iPad, we watched a program called "Firefall." Firefall is a narrative about the life and death of space debris such as meteors, meteoroids, meteorites and asteroids. The graphics were excellent and, while the storytelling was true-to-form campy, "Firefall" proved both visually and narratively gripping. I learned: space is horrifying, mass extinctions by way of space rocks are imminently possible, and, as Carl Sagan put it, there are billions and billions of stars out there. 

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For those who miss the older technology, here is a useful timeline of planetariums. For those who want to book their band inside the new planetarium, I have reached out for comment from the Museum and will keep you updated. In the mean time, the new planetarium should be on the top of your list for the best date spots in town. 



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