A major renovation of the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium at the Roswell Museum and Art Center has begun, requiring the planetarium to close for approximately the next two months as significant improvements are put in place to enhance the programs presented at the facility and the comfort of those attending the presentations.
The project, which began this week, will install modern digital projectors that will greatly upgrade the “full-dome” visual effects that can be achieved in the planetarium. A digital audio system is also being installed. In addition, the cove “effects” lighting around the base of the dome will be replaced with new equipment.
An added benefit of the new projectors is their ability to operate software that connects Roswell’s planetarium with other planetariums that are in the network established with the software through a system called “dome-casting.” That connection will allow the Goddard Planetarium to share educational and entertainment programs with planetariums from around the world. That exchange of programs will give the planetarium greater access to a wide variety of presentation topics, including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programming used by many schools.
The renovation will also include the installation of new seats and carpet, as well as cleaning and repainting of the dome. Meanwhile, the classic “star ball” that projects the stars and planets on the dome of the planetarium that opened in 1969 will remain in place and continue to be used alongside the new digital equipment.
The overall project cost is estimated at about $380,000, with most of that being funded by donations raised by the non-profit Roswell Museum and Arts Center Foundation.
A grand reopening will be scheduled at the planetarium once the renovation is complete.