Visual Acuity plans technology with architecture for Noble Planetarium, Fort Worth Blooloop

Building on its reputation as the media and technology consultant of choice for the global planetarium and visitor attraction industries, Visual Acuity hired the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Forth to provide architectural guidelines and technology planning for the complete redesign of Noble Planetarium Worth, Texas, USA .

Led by the famous Mexican architectural partnership Legorreta + Legorreta, backed by veteran local company Gideon Toal, the museum was demolished and then completely converted into a series of colorful, multi-dimensional buildings celebrating the design traditions of Latin America and the Southwestern United States. Its lively exterior, dominated by a spectacular ‘city lantern tower’, houses 166,000 square meters of new exhibition space. These include an improved IMAX Omni Theater, a new museum school and five glass-walled “innovation studios” that visitors will see as they enter the main entrance.

To match this new building, the new Noble Planetarium has been converted into a state-of-the-art facility with removable benches for 100 people, a Zeiss ZKP4 star projector and a SPACEGATE Quinto full-dome video projection system controlled by powerdome®. This means that visitors can now view the bright and natural stars from the optical / mechanical projector along with the full dome video from the SPACEGATE as a complete system.

Working with Gideon Toal, Visual Acuity provided guidance on architectural design and technology planning from the start of the project. The company advised not only for the planetarium itself, but also for the associated pre-show area, in which four large screens show guests a view of the sun broadcast live to the second, as well as audio, video and cable infrastructure via microwave dishes and fiber optic networks from a nearby solar observatory and other real-time imagery, as well as a computer rack room with support systems for the pre-show area and planetarium.

Mark MatthewsThe Senior Consultant at Visual Acuity comments, “As part of the rebirth of the Fort Worth Science and History Museum, the client wanted the planetarium to be equipped with the latest AV and IT systems, following the tradition of live and interactive presentations Astronomy training is maintained. We have worked very closely with the planetarium team to ensure that their needs were translated into architectural, structural and technical requirements that provide the best platform for what the team of astronomy professionals does. The museum already has a successful Omnimax theaterum and the last thing they wanted was a system that just played automated canned shows. The system can and can play automated can shows, but has been optimized for live presentations. Design considerations included the ability for presenters to walk among the spectators, the easily accessible storage space for propeller carts, and the console at the front of the planetarium. ”

He added, “The live presentations tonight will be of the Texas sky starting with the Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector which will provide a very realistic view of the Fort Worth sky on the day and date of the show. Various constellations are discussed with the myths and folk tales from around the world that surround the constellation images. The moderator then looks which planets are visible that night and how they can be found in the sky. Then the audience is taken away from the surface of the earth to visit the planets they just discussed and see them up close before flying out of the solar system and viewing the far-reaching influences of our sun, galaxy and far away Scientists were able to measure up to the edge of the cosmic microwave background. At the end of the shows, viewers are given practical advice on how to place red balloons over their flashing lights so as not to ruin night vision. Some useful star maps that are free to download to aid in their own backyard astronomy and other useful tips to encourage family audiences. “

“In many planetarium and digital dome projects around the world, from city flagship planetariums to local educational planetariums, Visual Acuity brings a huge amount of technical expertise to the table. They also apply their experience of how the latest systems are architecturally integrated into a new building. “

“The ZKP-4 star projector supplied by Seiler Instrument and Manufacturing Co. Inc. and manufactured by Carl Zeiss Jena AG offers possibly the most realistic replica of the night sky available. As the lights dim and the audience’s eyes get used to the darkness, you may hear the gasp in the tHeating in the beautiful night sky. Mark Matthews recalls, “We were talking about the system over dinner one evening, and I remembered the Hayden Planetarium claiming that if you bring binoculars into the theater, you can see objects that are invisible to the naked eye . Don Garland of the Fort Worth Science and History Museum put his binoculars in the dome and we were able to find all sorts of things that we couldn’t solve with the naked eye. It was really amazing. Planetarium staff are now considering hosting star parties in the dome, adds Matthews.

With the Uniview system from SCISS AB, Sweden, as the main digital visualization platform, the Noble Planetarium can display real, up-to-date astronomical data to visitors. Information from the Internet is fed live into the dome and enables the museum’s staff to access the latest astronomical images, for example high-resolution satellite images of Mars, the moon and the earth.

Even before the public opening in late 2009, guests were thrilled to see preview shows in the renovated planetarium, including the ASTC Association of Science – Technology Centers’ 2009 annual conference in November 2009. Linda Krouse, Planetarium Director, Noble Planetarium at the Fort Worth Science and History Museum in Forth Worth, is full of praise for the way Visual Acuity has helped bring about such a technologically complex and time sensitive project. “The company was absolutely professional in its approach,” says Krouse. “They listened carefully to our requirements, created suitable specifications and then helped with the practical implementation with a great team on site that was flexible and showed great attention to detail. The results are visible to everyone: a planetarium system that is different from anything that has been seen in the south-west until now. It’s lively, educational, and most importantly, breathtaking to just sit and watch! “

Images courtesy of: Noble planetarium in the Fort Worth Science and History Museum in Forth Worth, Texas, USA.

Visual acuity information

Acuity is an award-winning leading consulting firm providing long-term, independent and unbiased strategy, consulting, design and operations advice to clients in all areas of new media, visualization and ICT technology around the world. The company is headquartered in Brighton, UK with offices in Bergen, Norway. It works closely with industry, academia, governments and nonprofits in applying technology to projects ranging from museums and science centers to pharmaceutical research and development.

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