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21st Century Sky Dome Opens on Broad Street

From the 88.9 WCVE Newsroom–The Science Museum of Virginia upgrades The Dome. John Ogle has our report.

John Ogle: If you haven’t seen a show at the Science Museum of Virginia’s Dome Theater lately... be prepared to awestruck all over again.

Justin Bartel: The theater itself is sometimes called an immersive theater.  Because we’ve got the dome screen, now we can fill it with video all the way around you so you are really immersed in the experience if you look above you, behind you, everywhere there is something to see.

John Ogle: In fact, Justin Bartel is the Immersive Experience Specialist. He operates what is the most technologically advanced digital dome in the world. Nearly everything has been upgraded to state of the art.     

Justin Bartel: Just about everything but the seats. We’ve got an all new dome surface. Before, the panels that made up the dome overlapped. You could really see those seams during the shows. We’ve got a new, what’s called a nano-seam dome so all the panels line up very closely and there aren’t any visible seams.  We’ve added a new projection system called Digistar 5 that uses 41 computers and 5 projectors to produce imagery over the entire dome with video playback and we can do live shows with it also.

John Ogle: The screen and projectors are capable of high definition that is ten times more powerful than the any home theatre system. The kinds of things shown in the Dome are pretty much the same, he said, but the quality and versatility now, is like nothing seen before.   

Justin Bartel: Now we do still have the large-format, the IMAX film projector.  We can still run those films but with the Digistar 5, astronomy shows just kinda get kicked-up a few notches.

John Ogle: Viewers can ride through the thick atmosphere of Venus.. dodge solar flares around the Sun ..take a trip to the Cat’s Eye Nebula ..and literally interact with the cosmos. Justin gets to play with ..rather ..Justin gets to work with this equipment every day. I asked him if he has a particular favorite thing to experience.      

Justin Bartel: I really do like Saturn’s rings and we can also leave our galaxy and look at our galaxy from the outside and that’s a pretty impressive sight.

Click here for more information on the Dome at the Science Museum of Virginia.