Locals can now explore the universe with a million more pixels.
Last month, the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College upgraded its projector and its lights. The planetarium’s coordinator, James Albury, said the old projector was outdated.
He noticed that as technology improved, many people had higher definition simulations on their cellphones.
“The hardware was no longer able to keep up with the advances our planetarium provider was producing,” he said. “(And) our computers couldn’t keep up, so we couldn’t... update our software.”
It was then, he said, the planetarium was due for an upgrade.
The new projector outputs a little more than two million pixels — double that of the old projector — and the new lighting fully illuminates the dome.
Albury was able to use a space exploration computer program to simulate flying over locations like Disney World and Gainesville. When combined with the dome and the HD upgrade, the program immerses viewers, giving them the feeling that they’re in space.
Albury said the program is a great way for people to experience the closest thing to space travel.
It can serve as a visual learning experience as the audience travels across the galaxy, looking at detailed planets with facts about them listed across the screen.
Arielle Mance, a 34-year-old Santa Fe astronomy freshman, said she thinks the space exploration program is a great visual tool that professors can use to get students more interested.
“I think it allows for the professors to be more interactive with their lesson plans because they can actually give a visual representation of what they’re speaking of in the moment, which is pretty cool,” Mance said.
Santa Fe College students can get free admission to the planetarium with a student ID card. Admission for UF students with a Gator 1 Card is $4.
Tonight, the planetarium will host its last “Florida Skies” of the month. The event simulates the night sky.
[A version of this story ran on page 9 on 1/30/2015 under the headline “SFC planetarium reached for stars with new HD projector"]
The Chronos planetarium projector, located inside the new Kika Silva Pla Planetarium completed in August 2006 on the SFCC campus, is set to dazzle people of all ages with its "Southern Nights" show when it officially opens to the public Friday at 8:30 p.m.