Planetarium Grows A New Set of Next Gen Projectors

June 22, 2010 9 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Jacksonville will soon be home to the next-generation in planetarium technology thanks to The Bryan Family Trustees of The Henry & Lucy Gooding Endowment along with other individual members of the Bryan Family. With the $465,000 lead gift, the Museum of Science & History will purchase a state-of-the-art digital dome projector system and initiate plans to renovate the Alexander Brest Space Theater where the planetarium is housed.

The Planetarium holds a very unique and special place in Jacksonville.  Many generations of stoners, computer nerds, hippies, and artsy kids grew up with the Planetarium's legendary midnight laser shows as part of the experience.

One can hardly be a Jacksonville native of a certain age without remembering the fabled Pink Floydd Planetarium show.

After a recent trip to see the show, a piece of pure 70s era kitschy coolness, we remarked on how awesome and completely underutilized this community asset has been.

That we predict, is about to change, as the iconic Alexander Brest Planetarium is about to step right back into the future with the installation of a tremendous new projection set up.

“The lead gift from The Bryan Family Trustees of the Henry & Lucy Gooding Endowment is the perfect launch for our capital campaign to renovate the entire Alexander Brest Space Theater,” said John Magevney, chair of the MOSH board of trustees. “Their generosity and leadership sets us on the right course to reach our goal.”

Renovation plans include restoration of the theater’s 60-foot dome and interior upgrades to seating, lighting and sound.  MOSH is actively fundraising to secure the remaining project balance.

The planetarium is the device that generates and projects the visual display in the theater.  MOSH has selected a Konica Minolta Super MediaGlobe II digital dome projector, and when it is installed it will be the first of its kind in Florida. The new planetarium will replace the museum’s 22-year-old star projector, a vintage system that is one of only six still in use worldwide.

“The trustees of the Henry & Lucy Gooding Endowment are excited to be able to fund the new Konica Minolta Super MediaGlobe II digital dome projector,” said J.F. Bryan, IV, trustee of the Gooding Endowment board of trustees. “We think it is a real game changer for the Museum of Science & History.”

For more than 60 years, the Bryan Family has been a steward of the museum through three generations of board service and financial support.  “MOSH has a long history in Jacksonville, and is an important part of the community’s cultural landscape,” said Museum Director Maria Hane.  “This gift gives us an opportunity to build on the strength of the museum’s planetarium to better serve the education and entertainment needs of the community.”

The renovation is planned to take about six weeks, starting in August.  The Planetarium is slated to reopen in October, just in time for Halloween.

And what will happen to the old system?  The Museum will preserve the equipment, which by now has its own historical significance.  It will become part of the display and education mission of the Museum itself.

The Museum of Science & History (MOSH) is located at 1025 Museum Circle near Friendship Fountain Park.  MOSH, first chartered in 1941 as the Jacksonville Children’s Museum, stimulates the joy of learning for visitors of all ages in science, astronomy and the history of the region.  Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.  

Here is a look at the specs for the new system:

The Next Generation Konica Minolta Digital Dome Projection System

SUPER MEDIAGLOBE-II is the latest top-level model of the Konica Minolta MEDIAGLOBE series, the world’s first full-color single-lens digital planetarium. It projects simulations of the latest information gathered about our universe and presents it with leading-edge digital dome technology. Its 3-D digital planetarium functions simulate not just the earth and sky, but can take audiences to the edge of the known universe. The MEDIAGLOBE’s famous Graphical Control Interface (GUI) is now as powerful as it is easy to use.

High-resolution 2400 pixels (image diameter) and 10,000:1 contrast single-lens projection system

SUPER MEDIAGLOBE II is the first single-lens digital planetarium to adopt a new standard in high-resolution projection (4096 x 2400 pixels), four times more pixels than the best HDTV image and a native contrast of 10,000:1. Other systems may use an optical iris to achieve stated contrast ratios. However, using this method may result in black becoming washed out or grey when projecting bright images, and when projecting dark images faint detail is lost.
We have achieved a native contrast ratio of 10,000:1 without using optical iris adjustment. This allows reproduction of real black and ensures that details and depth in dark scenes are expressed clearly and vividly, including brilliant stars set against the blackness of space.

Advanced 3D digital planetarium (space simulations) function

SUPER MEDIAGLOBE-II’s 3D astronomical simulation function has evolved from the database used in MEDIAGOBE II. In addition to showing stars down to 12.4 magnitude, 3D data of 118,000 fixed stars, proper motion data of fixed stars at any time from 500,000 BC to 500,000 AD, SUPER MEDIAGLOBE-II utilizes the comprehensive stellar database “Mitaka” from the *NAOJ 4D2U project. Powerful real-time simulations take audiences through the solar system and beyond, flying through 3-D space and time to the 13.7 billion light-year limit of the known universe.

Projects high-resolution fulldome digital still and movie images and plays high-quality sound

Konica Minolta’s digital dome technology allows smooth playback of fulldome high definition movies of 2400 pixels in diameter, enveloping and inspiring audiences. The multi-media functions make it simple to project your digital image (still image and movie) or play music or recorded narration. It has never been easier to use the planetarium dome as a multi-purpose theater for presentations or events.

Text by Stephen Dare