TWC Planetarium History

By David J. Ross
Planetarium Coordinator


 


Why is it called the "Astronomy Education Building" and not just an observatory?  Because The Wilderness Center's 16" Keller Telescope isn't the only exciting new resource for astronomy education that will be housed there!

When The Wilderness Center opened the doors to its Interpretive Building in the early '70's it was obvious that someone had envisioned a place for astronomy in its program from the very beginning.  Designers had included a domed class room which they hoped would someday be used as a small planetarium.  One of the first projects of the Astronomy Club, shortly after it was founded in 1983, was to help The Wilderness Center realize that dream.  With the help and inspiration of Mr. Richard Emmons, a long-time promoter of astronomy throughout Northeast Ohio, we acquired a small projector designed and manufactured by Mr. Emmons with this son Tom, a professor of astronomy at Kent State University.  A good match for the 12ft. dome, planetarium programs at the Center conducted by staff and volunteers have featured the basics of constellation recognition ever since.

As plans for an observatory to house the Keller Telescope progressed in the mid-90's it was decided to incorporate the planetarium into this new facility, thus freeing space in the Interpretive Building for other uses. The multi-purpose class room built as part of the Astronomy Education Building features a 5 meter fiberglass dome manufactured by Technical Innovations.  To expand the capabilities available for use in planetarium programs a new projector is being acquired from Ash Enterprises of Richmond Virginia. This will be a fully refurbished and modernized version of a small projector marketed in the U.S. under the name Viewlex in the 1970's.  It is basically a customized version of Goto Optical's model E-5 projector, shown here in it's latest configuration.

Thanks to the generosity and commitment of The Fred F. Silk Foundation and The Wilderness Center's many supporters, which helped ensure the success of its recent capital campaign, members of the Astronomy Club will soon have the opportunity to use this new resource to both learn and teach others about the wonders and joys of astronomy as part of The Wilderness Center's ongoing and expanding program of nature education.

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Last updated May 14, 2001 by Rev. Dave Ross