What is a Planetarium?
If you have never heard of a planetarium, you might be thinking that it has something to do with plants or planets. If you know it has to do with the sky, you might be thinking it is a big telescope. If you have a first grader who has been on a field trip to the planetarium, you might have heard about Big Blue Guy.
A planetarium creates an artificial sky, including the sun, moon, stars, and planets, which appears and moves to simulate the real sky. The heart of the planetarium is the star projector, which makes this artificial sky on the dome. Few realize that the WVHS Planetarium and its star projector are original to the high school, which opened in 1975. Our projector is a Minolta Series IIB, which means little to a first grader. As anyone enters the planetarium, the projector is hard to miss. It stands 15 feet high, has two ends that look like heads with eyes, and is blue all over, hence, the nickname ‘Big Blue Guy’.What's the difference between an Observatory & Planetarium?
Observatories have telescopes which are instruments that are used to view distant objects. Through a telescope you view the real sky. Planetariums have star projectors that make an artificial sky that looks like the sky you would see with your eyes.Why come to a planetarium when you can see the real thing in your own backyard?
Even though it is artificial, the planetarium offers many advantages for stargazing. Outdoor stargazers must contend with the cold, cloud cover, unwanted light from streets, and the city glow in general. The star projector can also change time. Visitors see the night sky every program, no matter what time the program starts.