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1121Re: The Planetarium Identity Crisis

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  • Don Davis
    Sep 22, 2006
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      >Mark P. commented on Mark M.'s thoughts:

      >> * the bit about a digital dome theater *always* designed with a
      >> tilt (I'd wuss out with "almost always"), and

      >Yeah, 'cuz the Hayden Planetarium would then not be a fulldome
      >theater, nor would the Einstein Planetarium at the National Air and
      >Space Museum. Hmmm.

      Perhaps a little understandable 'wishful thinking' on Mark M's
      part...:-)? The role of the tilt in show potential has been discussed
      in the past, and aside from a few 'flat' domes out there, an
      anachronism generally imposed by someone's whims at a critical point
      in the design, many people in the field see the utility of allowing a
      look 'down' into a simulated view.

      I think Mark Matthews makes a worthy point here:

      'I always differentiate between a Planetarium and a Digital Dome. They are
      very different theatres.'

      I have the impression that the role of these facilities rests in the
      hands of a very few people. A domed facility is generally what its
      Director says it is, if they want to be nothing more than a
      traditional Planetarium so be it. This is more important than the
      details of the theater configuration.

      What is expected of a domed facility can be influenced by what it is
      called. For this reason I favor abandoning the term 'Planetarium' for
      digital domed theaters as a limiting term describing but a subset of
      what can be presented. The word 'Planetarium' has the tradition and
      the baggage of decades of educational emphasis which invokes a fairly
      specific idea of what to expect in such shows. This is the 'box' many
      a facility capable of doing more beyond mandated educational
      programming work within to this day. When people who think within the
      traditional Planetarium 'box' make decisions to build new digital
      domed theaters with a flat dome they are stunting the potential of
      that theater for all time. All things considered, I would rather have
      a domed theater emulating a Planetarium when desired than try to work
      with a traditional design Planetarium trying to match versatile
      visual environment of a dedicated tilted dome theater.

      Don Davis
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