Renovated UW Planetarium Offers Immersive Digital Experience

Nov 11, 2014

Astronomy Professor Mike Brotherton and recent graduate student Sabrina Cales enjoy images at the UW planetarium.
Credit UW Photo

The University of Wyoming’s newly renovated planetarium re-opens this week following an extensive renovation.

Almost all of the planetarium’s 1960’s technology has been replaced with state-of-the-art digital equipment. UW astronomer Danny Dale says the old set-up was limited to a two-dimensional view of the stars from Earth.

“It was pretty cool with that technology where you could rotate the ball and say here is what the sky looks like from, say, the North Pole or here is what it will look like in a hundred years. [But] that’s the sort of thing you were limited to,” he says.

Now, Dale says visitors can zoom through far-away galaxies or see the dark side of the moon.

“There is literally an infinite number of things you could do with this particular system and we just scratched the surface. So in that sense the software and its abilities are far more intense than what we had with our old system.”

The planetarium was originally built in 1969. This is the first major renovation since 2000. Construction began last spring with a $1.25 million gift provided by the Windy Ridge Foundation, along with a $350,000 contribution by UW. The facility is now named the Harry C. Vaughn UW Planetarium.