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Southworth Planetarium Becomes a Full Dome Experience

The implementation of this system, which is based on a high-definition projector, hemispherical mirror, computers and software, was made possible through a grant from the National Institutes of Health obtained by Dr. Monroe Duboise, professor of Virology here at USM. Through the project called NanoDiscovery Labs, which includes Duboise Laboratory personnel and planetarium staff, we’ve spent the past year building and testing the system, as well as acquiring and preparing fulldome content.    

The Full Dome show is all digital and encompasses the entire dome, providing audiences with a visual experience not even possible at IMAX theaters. Whereas an IMAX theatre presents a show on a mammoth screen in front and around the sides, the full dome show is above and around you. Our full dome system complements our traditional sky-based programming with immersive 360-degree digital content.

Through this immersive medium, we seek to complement education standards with a rich sensory experience that brings unseen worlds to life, at scales from galaxies in the universe down to individual atoms and everything in between. By creating an informative and exciting experience, we hope to get more kids interested in science, both at school and as a potential career choice.

Two shows have been digitaly rendered for optimal viewing using the new full dome projection system. We have also included curriculum guides for each of the shows so that teachers can integrate what they have learned into their classrooms . The two shows, Two Small Pieces of Glass, and IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System, come to us from the National Science Foundation and NASA, respectively.

Show # 1: Two Small Pieces of Glass
Two children attend a star party and discover the wonders of the Universe as seen through telescopes. They also learn the science and history of telescopes to learn how these instruments have expanded our view on the Universe.

icon Two Small Pieces of Glass - Curriculum Guide


Show # 2: IBEX: The Search for the Edge of the Solar System
The IBEX (Interstellar Boundary EXplorer) surveys the solar system's periphery. Where does the solar system end? Or, what are the boundaries of the heliosphere: where the interstellar gases repel the solar wind Experience one of the most visually rich and stimulating programs as we soar through the solar system in search of its boundaries.

icon IBEX - Search for the Edge of the Solar System - Curriculum Guide

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