SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — If you were looking to experience the starry sky or the far reaches of space from the comfort of your seat, you used to have to drive to Omaha.
But that will soon change when Sioux Falls opens a state-of-the-art planetarium of its own.
Since the beginning of summer, crews have been busy remodeling the Wells Fargo CineDome.
They’re transforming the space into the Wells Fargo CineDome and Sweetman Planetarium.
“What we will have, state of the art. There really is no better planetarium technology out there. We bought the Cadillac,” said Darrin Smith- CEO of The Washington Pavilion.
The planetarium will be equipped with the latest digital video, audio system and lighting. The area will seat 164 people for an array of out-of-this-world experiences.
“We’ve gone from analog technology to digital, so we could say that Washington pavilion is literally in the digital age,” said Brian Klepper- Project Engineer with Evans and Sutherland.
This $2.1 million planetarium has been in the works for the last few years. Now, they’re nearing construction and ready for their grand opening in early September.
CEO Darrin Smith says this project wouldn’t have been possible without a multimillion-dollar donation from the Sweetman family.
“We really felt like this was our big opportunity to do something significant in the CineDome, to make it relevant for the next 20 years, like it had been for this community the past 20 years. So that’s really how it came to be,” Smith said.
The Pavilion hired Evans and Sutherland to spearhead the project. The company has installed hundreds of planetariums in 50 countries around the world.
“It’s always wonderful to be able to start with as kind of a new canvas and then to finally see pixels and lights and color up on the dome, to be able to see what this type of imagery that I’m used to, to see how it looks on this type of a new facility. That’s what makes that’s what excites me and makes me happy,” Klepper said.
The newly installed 60-foot diameter dome is made of perforated aluminum panels. It will be able to display 6K resolution with the help of five 4K laser projectors.
“This dome material has also been upgraded. So it’s taking in the right amount of light and absorbing and reflecting the perfect amount of light. So we get this perfect, perfectly balanced image with great blacks, and amazing colors,” Klepper said.
The planetarium will be powered by the latest generation of Digistar 7. The software is used to display millions of stars, planets, and galaxies, to the outer reaches of the universe.
“This platform has the capability of interacting and displaying objects that had been collected and information libraries that have been collected from all of the major astronomical societies and agencies around the world,” Klepper said.
The images you’ll see in Sioux Falls are all stored in a digital cloud that’s used by thousands of planetariums across the world.
“Someone here, in a different facility, different part of the world can then download that content and then display it on the dome. So you can almost interact with Digistar content in real-time in the sense that you’re sharing it from different corners of the globe,” Klepper said.
Smith says this planetarium will bring in thousands of students and people not from just here in Sioux Falls, but the surrounding region.
The Washington Pavilion will host their grand opening of the Planetarium on September 1st. The Pavilion is joining with Areo-star to offer free admission to the public September 1st and 2nd.