May 5, 2017
Cancer researchers now produce more data than their human peers can keep up with. The Jeopardy!-playing supercomputer digests it all and helps elite cancer centers, including UNC’s Lineberger, get treatment information to doctors quickly —...Read More
Jan. 13, 2017
As my family drove onto Cape Cod this summer, my 6-year-old son spotted a large white object out his window. It was super tall and had three futuristic blades spinning slowly. He spotted another. Then...Read More
Jan. 13, 2017
There is something new to see on the campus. Two things, really — history lessons in white and black. A year and a half after a spring punctuated with the protests that students of color...Read More
In the end, there was no one left at the Zeiss Optical Co. in Germany who knew as much about the Morehead Planetarium’s 40-year-old analog star projector as the planetarium’s staff — that’s how outdated the behemoth centerpiece of the star theater was.
The Morehead finally is joining the worldwide planetarium shift to digital with a $1.5 million gift from GlaxoSmithKline, enabling it to replace the Zeiss with what’s known in the industry as full-dome digital video technology.
The star theater has been renamed the GlaxoSmithKline Fulldome Theater.
“I’ve been dreaming about today for about 10 years,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86, who directed the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center from 2001 to ’05 and had tried then to secure the funding to go digital. “Just don’t ever say we can’t do something.”
Appropriate to the planetarium’s history as a gateway to UNC for schoolchildren, third-graders from McDougle Elementary School in Carrboro and Charles E. Perry Elementary School in Roseboro were the first to watch a full-dome digital show.
The technology is a world-class projection system that puts Morehead in the same class as the National Museum of Air and Space, the American Museum of Natural History and the Griffith Observatory. The system can be programmed for any type of science show, while the Zeiss knows only astronomy. And the digital format will enable the Morehead to present shows created elsewhere and to market shows it creates to others.
Morehead visitors will experience the new technology directly through super-high-definition 4,000-by-4,000 pixel resolution, a digital surround-sound system and reconfigured seating for better sight lines. Full-dome digital video creates an immersive environment in which each visitor is surrounded by the sights and sounds of the planetarium show.
The theater will reopen to the public Feb. 5. It is the largest full-dome installation in the southeastern United States. Morehead expects more than 160,000 visitors, including nearly 85,000 schoolchildren, during the next year.