ASTROBLOG: Under the Dome With Planetarium Manager Liz Klimek
Hello! My name is Liz Klimek, and I’m the manager of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Planetarium here at the South Carolina State Museum. I’ll be writing not only about astronomy but also about happenings in the planetarium. By way of introduction, I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you a personal reflection.
Nearly one year ago, I moved to Columbia. The planetarium dome had just been completed. Inside was a set of bare concrete steps, sheets of plastic in place of doors, the clamoring sounds of hammering, welding, and drilling. At the end of every day, after all the workmen had gone home, I would sit on those steps in the quiet and marvel at what was being built up around me, imagining all the amazing things soon to come. But as I look back at that time, it’s not the construction of the planetarium itself that stands out most in my mind.
The planetarium under construction in the summer of 2014.
The strongest memories were made soon after, as I started to meet museum volunteers, local teachers, and other members of the community. I quickly sensed how important this was to everyone. This was not just a new attraction, this was something that meant a lot to the community, something that was already near and dear to the hearts and minds of many in the region. Many had fond memories of the former Gibbes Planetarium, and had waited a long time for the completion of its successor, as well as the museum’s expansion. Expectations were, and continue to be, undeniably high.
The planetarium today.
Technology has come a long way since the Gibbes closed. The large, insect like mechanical star projector once at the heart of the Gibbes now resides in the planetarium lobby, across from the State Museum’s new digital planetarium, which is powered by a network of computers and high resolution video projectors. Digital technology, combined with the immersive nature of the dome-shaped projection screen, has the power to not only share the night sky but to also go beyond this original sole purpose. The Universe, after all, is as full of art and music as much as it is full of stars and planets.
First audience to see a planetarium show at the Grand Opening in August 2014.
Planetariums are creative spaces, which educators have historically used to teach, inspire, and connect with as many people as possible. We will use our planetarium to take you to the stars, to the oceans, and to the far corners of the world. We will take you backwards and forwards in time and through the fantastical landscapes that lie within artists’ imaginations. We will show you the Universe from as many perspectives as possible, in the hopes that it will resonate with you in some way, to enhance and enrich your view of the world.
Floating in a field of galaxies at the end of the current planetarium show Two Small Pieces of Glass.
As part of that mission, I hope that this blog will provide another pathway for the planetarium to share the Universe with you. With these posts I hope to go beyond repackaging current events by adding a new dimension to them…to show how the discoveries made far away are still relevant to those of us here. Thank you to everyone who has supported the planetarium, the observatory, and the museum as a whole. You have a special place in our hearts as well, and we hope that you will join us both here online as well as under the dome.
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.