By Susan Wright
There might be nothing new under the sun, but there's a brand new way of looking at the sun, the stars and all the universes beyond our own at the Museum of Arts and Sciences planetarium opening this week.
The new planetarium has been moved from the back of the building in Daytona Beach to the front, and it's equipped with state of the art technology that's designed to take the viewers to other worlds, other planets and give them a sense of being transported to those distant places. And times. The new programs will put visitors into the world of the first phase of space exploration, watching the earliest satellites up close and placing them on the moon as Neil Armstrong prepares to take his first step.
No one is more excited about the opening of the new facility than the museum's executive director. Andrew Sandall said with the new facility, visitors to the museum will enjoy almost three times as many programs with a much wider variety of subjects.
And it's all new. Not bigger -- but with much better visual effects.
Mr. Sandall said, "The big difference is the new projector. We've gone from the 40-year-old optical star projector and we now have a full HD, digital dome projector.
"We can explore constellations and go anywhere," he said.
With the new technology, visitors will feel they've been deposited on other planets, looking back at the Earth, or go to the International Space Station and watch the world below or see the satellites around. Mr. Sandall said visitors will be able to feel they're already on the moon as Neil Armstrong climbs down from his lunar vehicle -- coming down right onto them.
The planetarium now has improved wheelchair access.
While they haven't expanded the physical space of the planetarium, they have almost tripled the number of programs that will be offered each week -- not to mention the variety of experiences the programs will offer.
"We are offering three times the number of programs during the week, and there's a lot more variety," Mr. Sandall said.
The new planetarium will officially open Saturday, Aug. 23, with a selection of shows running throughout the day. Members can get a special preview from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, with a choice of three special times to view a preview show that will introduce all the new programs and features of the facility with a special demonstration of the Planetarium's projection and sound capabilities, presented by Seth Mayo, the MOAS curator of astronomy.
Members are asked to call ahead to reserve a place at one of the shows, which are scheduled for 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. The cost to attend the preview event is $20 and it is for MOAS members only. Non-members may join for the usual rates, starting at $20 for a student, $25 for a senior citizen or $35 for an individual.
For more information, call (386) 255-0285.