The Roy L. and Clara Belle Wiley Planetarium at Delta State, housed in the Caylor-White-Walters complex, will celebrate a grand re-opening after major renovations to the facility were completed this summer.
The planetarium was founded in 1976 and named for Roy Lee Wiley and his wife Clara Belle Wiley. Roy taught Physics at Delta State from 1942-1975.
On Oct. 9, a private showing for distinguished guests will honor the Wiley family for their commitment to the university and planetarium.
The public will have opportunities to view the facility with a 6 p.m. showing on Oct. 12, a 4 p.m. showing (geared toward children) and a 6 p.m. showing on Oct. 14, and finally, a 1 p.m. showing on Oct. 15 before Delta State’s Homecoming kickoff. Tickets for these shows will be $5 per person and may be purchased at the door with cash or check.
Recent upgrades to the facility were a big part of the $18 million overhaul at Delta State’s science and math building. Renovations on the entire building are nearing completion.
The planetarium is used for university astronomy classes and also presents special programs for schools and the general public.
In addition to its new seats, carpet and other amenities, the renovation also included the installation of the dual projector Digistar 5 planetarium system from Evans and Sutherland, and the professional quality 5.1 surround-sound system from Bowen Technovation.
The system not only allows users to move their view of the stars back and forth through time, but it also lets users fly through the solar system to the other planets. As a bonus, it also turns the planetarium into a 3-D digital theater.
“The astronomy classes will of course use the planetarium, but one long-term goal is to use the planetarium as an instructional tool for other subjects,” said Dr. James Gerald, assistant professor of physics. “Dr. Adam Johanson helped a student with a project this summer to build 3-D models of molecules and display them on the dome. The priority of the planetarium will be teaching astronomy, but we will also have public outreach through shows. We look forward to collaborating with other departments across campus to create new content, and watch for us to start having more shows for the public. This will help us broaden the educational mission of the planetarium.”
Johanson, an assistant professor of physics, is looking forward to using the planetarium to inspire people of all ages.
“Most people have had a fascination with astronomy sometime in their life, particularly as little children,” said Johanson. “We hope that all will rediscover that child-like wonder as they experience the awe and majesty of the cosmos in the immersive environment at the Wiley Planetarium.”
The planetarium will soon have its own website as public programming, and shows will begin to ramp up.
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