On Thursday, March 6, 2014, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and Hudson River Museum Board of Trustees Chair, Jan Adelson will dedicate the museum’s new, full-dome digital planetarium. The Definiti 4K Hybrid System is the fourth generation of planetarium devices at the Hudson River Museum. The first was the Spitz A1 installed in 1956 under a 12 foot wide dome in the dining room of Glenview at a time when it was the entire museum. In September 1969, when the new museum building was opened, it included the Andrus Space Transit Planetarium, named for the Spitz Space Transit planetarium projector which was a great step forward in planetarium technology. The last upgrade was the installation of the Zeiss M1015 in 1987.
Among the most capable star machines of its size for its day, the Zeiss M1015 was part of an elaborate system which relied on batteries of slide projectors, video tape and laserdisc machines, and mirrors attached to hobby motors for many of its effects. The new system replaces the 5,000 star Zeiss M1015 with a new Ohira-Tech Megastar II computer-controlled optical star projector, capable of showing ten thousand of naked-eye stars and a breathtakingly realistic Milky Way composed of millions of individual stars. The Megastar II can be synchronized with twin video projectors that cover all 2,500 square feet of the dome at 4,000 x 2,300 resolution. The video projectors have access to a database of every known astronomical object and feature, and a model of the motions of every planet, every known star, hundreds of satellites and hundreds of thousands of asteroids and comets. The system can transport viewers from Earth to visit the Apollo landing sites on the moon, fly them through the rings of Saturn, catch up with the Cassini space probe, give them a vision of the universe as seen through eyes that can perceive invisible forms of light, or newest of all, explore the exoplanetary systems beyond the sun.
The $1.5 million upgrade was installed by SkySkan, a Nashua, New Hampshire company that pairs the most advanced planetarium instrumentation with the most complete data sets of astronomical information. The project was funded through the Yonkers Capital Budget. Mayor Mike Spano said the new Planetarium “would provide educational programming for thousands of Yonkers Public School Students and would be used as part of elective course work in Astronomy and Physics for High School Students taught at the Museum.” He also noted the upgrade was “part of the incredible growth of digital enterprise that has become central to Yonkers future.” Museum Chair, Jan Adelson said the upgrade “helps the Museum serve as a resource for Westchester and an attraction for Westchester and beyond.”
The old planetarium served nearly 6,000 students annually from about 250 schools in the tri-state area. With 122 seats, the Planetarium will offer 6 shows every weekend, including live programs. Tuesday through Friday are reserved for school groups during the school year and camp groups in the summer.
After the dedication on March 6, the Planetarium will begin public programs on March 8.
Hudson River Museum Planetarium Facts
The Planetarium system uses data from dozens of sources worldwide resulting in the most complete and accurate astronomical database of the known universe. Combining its astronomical capabilities with the best terrain-mapped images available of our Solar System along with Earth weather visualization features, the new planetarium offers a unique experience for those wanting to explore the night sky and our place in the universe.
Projection: A Definiti 4K Hybrid System with an optical star projector with LED illumination that projects up to 10 million stars and two Digital Video Projectors (4,096 x 2,300 resolution and 5,000 lumens each). Among its projection capabilities are flights through the solar system and live worldwide images of Earth weather.
Sound: An 8,000 watt 5.1 surround sound system. The Planetarium is also equipped with an assisted listening system
Dome: A 40 foot (diameter) dome (2,500 square feet of projection surface) mini-perforated with a reflective surface to properly capture the HD projections.
Astronomical Data: Database of the known universe from sources including the Yale Bright Star, Hipparcos, Tycho2 and Hubble Guide Star catalogs and data gathered by international space agencies such as NASA and the European Space Agency, and NOAA.