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The Julia Fowler planetarium is one of the most sophisticated and highest resolution planetariums in a 20-foot dome in the world. New software (The Layered Earth) and hardware (SciTouch) will enable a new age of astronomy education at Eastern University, allowing for a more integrated audience experience. The dome will essentially be turned into a smart screen with direct interaction via the patented SciTouch laser controller.
The Bradstreet Observatory consists of twin 14.5-foot diameter galvaluminum Ash Domes, able to rotate 360 degrees. The shutters are designed to slide up behind the dome, with a lower shutter that lowers downward, allowing the observer to see from the horizon to the zenith. The domes are controllable not only from within the dome but also remotely from the Russell Control Room.
The azimuth of the open shutter is automatically read out via digital sensors donated by Ken Goff of Performance Controls, also a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. This allows observers in the Control Room to align the dome to wherever the telescope is pointing without having to see either the telescope or the dome. This is critical because most of the serious observing and research is undertaken from the Control Room, not in the domes.
The domes house 16” diameter Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes. These telescopes are fully computerized, allowing the user to automatically find 64,000 objects pre-stored in the telescopes’ computer.
The telescopes can also be completely controlled remotely via ancillary computer systems. Intel XEON computers using Software Bisque’s The Sky6 software allow the user to point and click on a star map and send the telescope precisely to over 19 million objects, the same database used by the Hubble Space Telescope. Recent US Naval Observatory software updates have expanded this database to over 526 million objects!
Students work closely with professional astronomers and participate in publishable research, and present papers at professional meetings. Competitive summer research opportunities are available.
The Astronomy faculty strives to challenge students to achieve excellence in all they do. From research grants to publishing papers, presenting papers and innovative classroom lectures, the faculty lead by example. While your focus will be in astronomy and astrophysics, we hope that the education you leave with will enable you to succeed in fulfilling God’s purposes for your life.
Throughout the year, the Julia Fowler Planetarium serves thousands of Pre-K through college students. The planetarium is open to the public for special presentations, including the perennial favorite "The Star of Bethlehem" show in December. The innovative Fulldome Curriculum, developed in the Fowler Planetarium by Dr. David H. Bradstreet for Spitz Inc., is used extensively at other SciDome planetariums worldwide. Most of our public offerings include a 25 minute presentation on the Sky Tonight. The remaining 25 minutes of the public shows feature high-resolution fulldome video.