By Emily Mcintyre
The Lake Erie Nature & Science Center in Bay Village opened its completely renovated Walter R. Schuele Planetarium to the community Saturday with a day full of free programs.
Funding for the $825,000 planetarium began in 2006 and came from the center’s “Alive with Learning for All” capital campaign, which also funded the expansion and updating of its Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in 2012.
The new planetarium was upgraded with a brand-new dome, an optical-mechanical star projector, an Omnistar digital projector, reclining seats,
high-fidelity surround sound and much more.
“Now with the digital projector, we are able to use NASA’s missions to help provide the data they can give us, up-to-the-minute feeds, and we can access a lot more of their resources more effectively,” said Wendy Hanna, marketing coordinator of the center.
Programs that were held before renovations will continue; however, they will be improved and much more impactful with the new planetarium technology, Hanna said. No new
programs will be offered in the near future.
The center was filled with people Saturday, most of them emerging from the 15-minute planetarium presentations with a smile on their face.
“It was wonderful, better than I thought it would be,” visitor Chris Ortiz said.
Also, this planetarium is one of the few in the world to have both of the new projectors, planetarium coordinator Fran Ratka said. With that, the staff hopes to attract as many visitors as possible for a unique experience under the stars.
“Whatever your level of education, whatever your level of interest, we’re accessible to everyone,” Hanna said. “We just need to have an appreciation and an understanding of (our solar system). There’s not a lot of places to be able to do that anymore.”