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Strasenburgh Planetarium reopens after three months of renovations

Jan 11, 2019

An image projected on the Strasenburgh Planetarium's dome
Credit Katie Epner/WXXI News

A $1.2 million renovation project at the Strasenburgh Planetarium at the Rochester Museum & Science Center is now complete, and grand reopening celebrations begin Saturday.

The planetarium had been closed since November to make the upgrades. Planetarium director Steve Fentress said the upgrades were overdue.

“For 20 years, our customers have been saying that, ‘I loved coming to this place as a kid, but boy, it really needs an upgrade,’ and at last it’s been done.”

The project was paid for by a mix of state and private funds, and local optics company Navitar donated a full dome projection system known as the Digistar 6, which will greatly expand the capabilities of planetarium shows. The program uses public data to create vivid visualizations.

“We’ll be able to look at Earth and see it in real time to see cloud data, things like that, so it’s not just about star viewing anymore,” RMSC President and CEO Heather Olsen said. “It’s about seeing just about anything you want to see on this dome in this immersive experience in this environment.

“We want to give them that big immersive experience so they want to lay down, see the stars, and what we really want is for them to learn about the solar system, about the night sky, about the stars and then go outside at night and see it for themselves.”

Other changes include new seats, an upgraded lobby, better lighting, and wider aisles. The planetarium plans on using the Digistar 6 for a wide variety of shows and events.