Gazing at the stars through the prism of Elizabeth City State University’s Khan Planetarium is about to become a digital state-of-the-art experience.
According to Dr. Gloria Payne, the Khan Planetarium is undergoing a scheduled upgrade this summer that will connect it to a worldwide digital system.
“The upgrade will enhance the educational and research opportunities for faculty and students in the region,” said Payne, chair of the ECSU Department of Natural Science, Pharmacy and Health Professions.
Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, the upgrade will include projection, lighting, and sound systems that power the planetarium’s big screen, full-dome experience.
“This will be the only planetarium in the state of North Carolina with a Digistar 6 Projection System, and it will have built-in cloud capability that will allow us to connect with all Digistar systems worldwide,” she said.
Payne says upgrades to the planetarium will begin an exciting new era in planetary learning. Full dome digital technology has become the norm for planetariums worldwide, offering high resolution and multi-media image production.
Visitors to the Khan Planetarium will experience a panoramic view of the stars and universe. The new system will automatically connect to science data repositories and update itself with the latest data about the universe so that repeat visitors will always have something new to see and learn.
Since its inception in 1990, the Khan Planetarium has served over 175,000 visitors from the region and across the state. The facility’s star projector has taught a generation how to find the North Star, as well as constellations, and motions of planets in the heavens.
The remodeling of the planetarium began early May for installation of the digital upgrades.
A grand reopening ribbon cutting ceremony is expected in early fall 2018.
Payne says that during this period of upgrade, all planetarium shows are suspended as ECSU prepares for the next generation of learners.