W.A. Gayle planetarium in Montgomery to reopen March 9

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The W.A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery will reopen to the public Sunday, March 9, at 2 p.m.

The planetarium closed in late January for a major upgrade project.

The planetarium's 45-year-old analong projector was replaced with a new full-dome digital projector.

Planetarium director Rick Evans said the analog projector has been in use since the planetarium opened in 1969. The star machine is operated using 300 knobs and controls to project light through hundreds of tiny holes in the ceiling.

The new system is controlled by a computer with digital images of stars and planets from a single digital projector in the center of the dome. Evans says the experience will be more dynamic and immersive for viewers. It will also offer a greater variety of programming options like the program "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure."

"Full-dome projection will give viewers the feeling of motion while watching the immersive video on the dome," Evans said, in a news release. "You will feel like you're in the middle of the action during a show."

The City of Montgomery and Troy University funded the $500,000 upgrade with support from the Daniel Foundation, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama and the State of Alabama Education Trust Fund.

The planetarium is located in Oak Park. It's operated by Troy University for the City of Montgomery.

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