Projectors for The UW Planetarium
Department of Astronomy
The UW Planetarium, a 40 seat digital planetarium hosted in the Astronomy Department, is an indispensable tool that enables students both inside and outside the department to develop and hone their scientific communication skills. The visualization tools provided by our WorldWide Telescope software provides students the unique ability to explore large datasets and images on our thirty foot dome. Our current projection system, however, does not utilize the full capabilities of the WorldWide Telescope software, nor does it take full advantage of the graphics processing capabilities of our newly-purchased computers. Furthermore, our current projectors rely on expensive bulbs which frequently burn out and require replacement. Degradation of the optics over the lifetime of our current projectors results in uneven illumination, low contrast, and poor calibration between projectors. All of these factors noticeably reduce the quality of the full-dome projection. We are requesting funds to replace these projectors with six new laser phosphor projectors which will eliminate the need for costly bulb replacements and result in a higher contrast, more uniform, and higher resolution projection. All current UW students will have access to this system subject to training requirements. The WorldWide Telescope software that powers the planetarium has the ability to render satellite imagery of the Earth and the ability to render user-input data in three dimensions, making the system useful to students of disciplines beyond Astronomy.