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Planetarium shining since 1969

Sri Vangala

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As students at De Anza College, we have access to some of the most reputable programs in the state, as well as an extremely high transfer rate.

However, one drawback to having a plethora of specialized programs is that many students spend all their time in one department, while others become overlooked.

One particular example of a well-established but relatively under-credited program is the Fujitsu Planetarium located in the S quad.

The planetarium is home to classes Astronomy 4 and 10. It also hosts educational field trips for elementary schools, as well as light shows set to 60s psychedelic music.

According to Technical Director Karl von Ahnen, the Fujitsu Planetarium currently utilizes some of the most advanced technology on the market.

This technology includes combining a hardware star projector with a digital projector and a software program called DigitalSky.

DigitalSky allows users to move freely through a 3D universe and view astronomical phenomenon. In order to project these images on the roof of the planetarium, they combine several computers, each designated to specific functions so that each show will run smoothly.

In their early years, planetariums would use an apparatus that held over 100 projectors and was around 13 feet long with spheres attached to each end to represent the northern and southern hemispheres.

These models would allow patrons to solely view specific stars and planets, but eventually became phased out in favor of digital projectors.

The Foothill and De Anza College district, in a 1969 meeting involving Minolta founder Kazuo Tashima and Calvin Flint, was given a projector valued at $75,000 to $80,000 by Minolta that was the first to be used in the United States.

The planetarium, which was completed in the early 70s, was named the Minolta Planetarium until 2008, when it received a donation of $1 million from Fujitsu, prompting De Anza College to change its name to the Fujitsu Planetarium.

The planetarium’s holds astronomy and laser light shows every Saturday.

This coming Saturday, the astronomy shows include “The Little Star that Could,” “Two Small Pieces of Glass” and “Extreme Planets.” Directly following the astronomy shows, there will be a “Celestial Odyssey” light show as well as a show for Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” at 10 p.m.

Tickets for the astronomy show are $8 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under, while the laser light show costs $9 for adults and $7 for children.

For more information go to http://www.deanza.edu/planetarium.

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