QUOTE(tobbyhatley @ Dec 30 2009, 10:45 PM)
Thanks for the reply. Here's some more info regarding what I term a "professional" planetarium...as opposed to a portable or in home facility.
The group I'm with is in the process of building a stand alone museum that has an aerospace component. The planetarium would be inside the museum; no extra fees would be charged unless there's a special event. The current museum design contains a 1,500 square foot, 100 seat theater and an 800 square foot, 50 seat classroom. The building itself will be at least two stories, possibly three.
We will have a robust education component so it seems that a significant part of our planetarium audience would be elementary and high school students; other aerospace partnerships will be developed with higher education institutions. Two nearby universities have planetariums that date from the early to mid-1960s. One is a local college...the other university is 80 miles away. Neither has any plans to upgrade or expand their current facilities. The second targeted audience is the general public.
As for staffing---we're flexible. My gut feeling is that someone running the show would be much better than a staffer simply pushing a button. But I can see where an automated system may come in handy on a day to day basis...not to mention be much more cost effective.
The report I'll prepare will be presented this way: Must Have, Could Use and Would Be Nice.
Which means I need the necessary due dilligence information to make an informed decision: mimimum room dimensions, best type and size of dome and the appropriate equipment. Cost--of course--is alway the critical factor.
So there you go... Besides you...where's the best source of information for all of this?
Jon or Eric at Ash Enterprises http://www.ash-enterprises.com/
do this kind of thing. Also, the various manufacturers of projectors would be very happy to help when you buy their particular machines.
There are two main types of instrument, the optical/mechanical and the video/laser. Each has it + and - points. I tend to like the older optical/mechanical type as I believe in a more realistic sky is the best teaching tool. Others lean toward the video systems that allow one to "zoom" about the universe. Probably having both is the best solution and many are going in that direction, but unless you spend a lot of time building and adjusting some of the less expensive (used and mirror systems) you will be paying substantial $$$$. These systems can easily reach well into the six figures. There are systems available well under $100K but I would certainly view them before purchase. Another thing to remember about video systems is, like a movie, you will need to get programing to run on it. This you can buy from outside producers ($$$) or produce yourself (time). Programs like this will run with the push of a button. A conventional (old fashioned) optical/mechanical projector can also be run via programing, but is limited to an Earth based view of the sky. These are probably more effectively used with a live presenter (and in my opinion [not worth much]) provide a better learning experience. You can also get used optical/mechanical equipment at a substantial discount, and if properly cared for, will outlive us all.
The dome is the biggest problem. If buying new (Spitz makes very good ones) no problem, just $$$$. Used are harder to find. I personally would recommend something around 30 feet in diameter. This is big enough to hold 100 people or so, and also produce a fairly realistic sky. Bigger does tend to be better but the cost of everything goes up with dome size. A 30 foot dome would probably require a clear cealing height of at least 25 feet. A room 30+ feet square (900 sq. ft.) could be added to your building, or the classroom could do double duty. This depends on your building budget, expected number of visitors (both student groups and public performances) and use demand for the classroom. Since public shows would tend to fill more on evenings and weekends, while school show demand would be during the day, adding some classroom meetings would make for good use of the space. I would allow an hour for each show with a half hour minimum in between for reset and cleaning. You could start with that old Dr. Pepper slogan "10-2-&4" and see how full your shows get.
Must have: A projection dome ~ A planetarium projector ~ A sound system ~ Enough power for future expansion ~ Extra $$$$.
Could use: A catwalk behind the dome ~ A machine room and/or projection gallery around the dome ~ Extra $$$$.
It would be nice to have: Both an optical and video projection system ~ A production area for shows ~ Extra $$$$.