September 16, 2011
11-152

Jessica Pope
Communications Specialist

VSU Planetarium Goes Digital

VALDOSTA --Valdosta State University’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, Geosciences, and Engineering Studies is ready to introduce South Georgia to its new digital planetarium system.

The public is invited to check out the updated facility on Friday, Oct. 7, when the VSU Planetarium hosts “Autumn Stargazing.” This show is suitable for ages 5 and up and will begin at both 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., lasting 40 to 50 minutes. Seating is limited to 47 people and admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. Should the weather cooperate, the VSU Observatory will be open for public viewing of celestial objects after the show.

Over the summer, the VSU Planetarium received the Digitarium Kappa by Digitalis Education Solutions Inc., replacing its 44-year-old Spitz A3P projector.

Dr. Kenneth S. Rumstay, professor of physics and astronomy and VSU Observatory director, said the Spitz A3P “still works very well” because it was “maintained very well.” However, he said it was like “having an IBM typewriter in very good condition” when everyone else has an iPad. The digital technology simply offers more power and fewer limitations.

“Ours was the first Digitarium Kappa to be installed anywhere in the world,” he said.

The new Digitarium is capable of simulating the night sky from any point on Earth or from other planets and moons; moving forward or backward in time at varying speeds; simulating the solar system over a time range of two million years; displaying orbits of the planets and moons; displaying paths of solar system bodies against the stars; simulating celestial phenomena, such as transits, eclipses, and meteor showers; zooming in on or labeling items of interest; and much more.

In addition to the new digital planetarium system, the VSU Planetarium dome was cleaned and painted and a new phone system and lights were installed.

The VSU Planetarium is located in Room 3004 on the third floor of Nevins Hall. Limited parking is available in front of Nevins Hall and at the Admissions Office on the opposite side of Patterson Street. Daytime planetarium shows for school groups and civic organizations are available with advance reservations.

Upcoming public VSU Planetarium shows include “Two Small Pieces of Glass” on Nov. 4, “Origins of Life” on Dec. 2, “Winter Stargazing” on Feb. 3, “The Dawn of the Space Age” on March 2, and “Spring Stargazing” on April 6.

For more information, call VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, Geosciences, and Engineering Studies at (229) 333-5752.