Chadron State College
Chadron State College
 

Planetarium gains digital programs

Mar 29, 2021

Dr. Tawny Tibbits stands next to the retired optical mechanical projection ball on display in the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, March 26, 2021. (Photo by Abigail Swanson/Chadron State College)
Dr. Tawny Tibbits stands next to the retired optical mechanical projection ball on display in the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, March 26, 2021. (Photo by Abigail Swanson/Chadron State College)

CHADRON – When the Math Science Center of Innovative Learning (COIL) opens, a state-of-the-art planetarium will premiere, as well. 

The handicap accessible planetarium, named for Dr. Lois Veath Podobnik in 2017, will be on the ground floor of the COIL. Seats will be available for 39 people, with an additional wheelchair accessible area.

The planetarium system will rely on digital projection, compared to the mechanical system used in the past. The new projection system includes surround sound for a fully immersive experience.

According to Dr. Tawny Tibbits, physical and life sciences assistant professor, the digital system allows for more versatility. 

“We are hoping to expand the curriculum for the planetarium beyond just the stars to incorporate more disciplines,” Tibbits said.

Future shows will include the solar system and our star field in the universe. Additionally, the software provides the opportunity to develop original shows. The new planetarium will also be able to screen movies and other visual media.

“We are hoping to do things in the future like watch Mars rover landings and shuttle launches for the Natural Science Club and astronomy classes,” Tibbits said.

The planetarium will continue presenting free Friday shows once the building opens. These shows will provide a resource for local students learning astronomy, and for Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts earning astronomy badges, Tibbits said.

“We are hoping (the new planetarium) will generate more of a community and a campus interest in astronomy and in remembering the universe around us,” Tibbits said.

—Abigail Swanson, College Relations