Benjamin Banneker Planetarium Goes Digital

Sebastian Brush

CCBC’s Benjamin Banneker Planetarium has a new home in the new Mathematics and Science Hall on the Catonsville campus as well as a newly installed Spitz SciDome XD digital projector that creates amazing visuals on the massive 10 meter screen. This semester astronomy students are learning about the stars in an incredible new way.

The new digital system surpasses the old optical mechanical system in practically every aspect. For example, the planetarium now shows all 88 constellations, whereas the old system merely showed four.

Another amazing feature of the digital projector is the ability to travel all throughout space. First, the giant screen shows a likeness of the CCBC campus looking into the night sky. All of a sudden, the perspective changes and one appears to be anywhere from the moon to the surface of Mars.
Hayley Garner, a CCBC student taking Astronomy this semester, said that, “the planetarium is extremely helpful in class, and provides a great visual understanding.” One would actually have to travel into space to get such a perspective, but now CCBC students gain this perspective from the comfort of air-conditioning and a cushioned seat.

Astronomy Students at CCBC have been excited about the change from the normal blackboard and chalk classroom to the astonishing display of the planetarium. Students can watch the wonders of space unravel before their eyes, see the night sky in real time, or even watch full dome movies in the new planetarium. All of which are more effective and even more fun ways of learning about space than from a normal, old textbook.

This new way for students to explore the sky truly takes CCBC Astronomy classes above and beyond a better understanding of space. Julian Johnson, an Astronomy Major at CCBC said, “it encourages me. It makes me want to learn more.”

Another exciting feature of the planetarium is the Celestial Shows that are open to the public and free to attend. All semester, on the occasional Friday night and Saturday morning an event will take place that will explore another aspect of space. These events range from exploring the moon to learning about the history of understanding the stars.

David Ludwikoski, an Astronomy Professor at CCBC, explained that one, “can learn anything in my class and so much more.”

Many of the Celestial shows are even designed to be family oriented. Shows like Space Witch and Dudley the Curious Duckling are scheduled to take place this semester. In these shows, children, students, and adults can follow as adorably animated characters explore space.

Ludwikoski also included that, “We can create our own shows much more easily than we could before and we can go almost anywhere in the world or in space to simulate what the night sky looks like.”

The Spitz SciDome XD digital projector is one of the most hi-tech new things that has come to CCBC along with the new Math and Science Hall.

The school has also looked into other software that would allow Banneker Planetarium to be used for other subjects. For example, technology exists that would turn the dome into a likeness of our planet to teach Earth Science. The possibilities are endless!

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