MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — Ball State University has approved plans for a $4.6
million planetarium its director says will dazzle visitors with projections
of 10 million stars.
The 6,500-sq.-foot planetarium approved Friday by Ball State’s trustees will
boast a 52-foot diameter dome that will make it Indiana’s largest
planetarium when it opens in 2014, school officials said.
Ball State professor of physics and astronomy Ron Kaitchuck told The Star
Press for a story published Sunday (http://tspne.ws/NYKct6 ) that the
school’s old planetarium built in 1967 can project only 1,500 stars.
“Think eight-track tapes,” Kaitchuck, the planetarium’s director, said with
He said not only will the new planetarium be capable of projecting 10
million stars but visitors will be able to use binoculars to zoom in on star
clusters floating in the vast expanses of projected space.
The planetarium, with seating for about 140, will be built on the west side
of the Cooper Science Building.
Nearly half of the project’s $4.6 million cost will come from a gift from
1971 Ball State graduate Charlie Brown, the co-owner of Southern Bells, a
chain of Taco Bell and KFC restaurants.
The university will seek additional donor participation to fund the
Brown said he hopes the planetarium will become an important resource and
source of inspiration for the community, especially youth.
“My goal is to get the biggest and best planetarium we can at Ball State to
serve this area of the country,” he said.
The planetarium will feature a GOTO Chronos II Hybrid star projector capable
of such feats as accurately portraying the night sky 10,000 years into the
future or the past within seconds.
It also will be able to transport visitors to Mars.
“It gets bigger and bigger and bigger until you are flying over the surface
of Mars and moving through the canyons of Mars,” Kaitchuck said. “We can fly
there. We can move through the star clusters or wherever you want to go.”
He the new facility, the culmination of 15 years of hopes and planning, will
rank in the top 10 among the nation’s 363 university-run planetariums.