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An All-New System Offers Brighter, Sharper Images in Morehead’s Fulldome Planetarium Theater

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Visitors will experience the North Carolina skies like never before

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—A brand new 4K laser projection system at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center (Morehead) will give new and returning viewers a clearer view of the night sky like never seen before in Chapel Hill. This new technology will help Morehead provide an even more immersive and dynamic experience for visitors in the planetarium’s famed fulldome theater.  

“With six times the contrast and nearly seven times the brightness of our previous projection system, viewers will be able to see a broader field of stars,” says Richard McColman, Morehead’s Fulldome Theater Manager. The new projection system also features new state-of-the-art lenses which deliver sharper and crisper images. “As technology evolves rapidly, we strive to provide hardware that keeps pace” adds McColman.  

Aligning the stars. Richard McColman, Morehead Fulldome Theater Manager and George Barnett from SSIA Technologies, work together to align the digital projection system for Morehead’s 68-foot dome.

The new projection system is installed in an edge-blended configuration with one projector covering the northern half of the theater and another one covering the south. With a calibrated overlap, the installation team worked to create a smooth and warp-free 360° picture.  

“The difference is incredible. The colors are much brighter and the stars more visible,” says Astronomy Educator, Nick Eakes. I am excited to share brighter night skies and clearer images. With all the discoveries coming out from NASA, we have the exciting opportunity to share the latest astronomy news with the community – like never before!” 

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center underwent a major renovation in 2019-2020, including changes to the exhibit floor and upgraded seating in the fulldome theater. The last projection upgrades came in 2010 as Morehead transitioned to a fully digital fulldome system after 42 years of service from the Zeiss VI star projector. The theater remains one of the largest in the Southeast at 68 feet in diameter and 44 feet in height.  

“Morehead has a long tradition of educating North Carolinians about the stars and the universe,” says Todd Boyette, the Director of Morehead. “We are excited that we are able to share our educational programming using the latest technology.” 

Morehead’s programming extends beyond astronomy, covering topics in earth science, biology, and more. The new system will allow Morehead to keep pace with the latest graphics and imagery from its in-house team of visual effect artists and animators. “The new system will showcase our graphics more vibrantly – bringing our visuals to life,” says Assistant Director of Digital Production and Strategy Jay Heinz. 

The purchase and installation of the new digital projection system was made possible through the generous support of an anonymous donor.  

Starting September 17, 2022, Morehead will reopen to the public. Visitors can experience the new projection system and enjoy a wide lineup of shows for kids, families, and adults to enjoy. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the fall season. Launch Lab, Science LIVE!, and exhibits are included with the purchase of a planetarium show ticket. For more information, please visit www.moreheadplanetarium.org


ABOUT MOREHEAD PLANETARIUM AND SCIENCE CENTER

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is a unit of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Morehead serves North Carolina and beyond by bringing together the unique resources of UNC to engage the public for an improved understanding of science, technology, and health.

Media Contact:  
Rosario Vila | Marketing & Communications Manager  
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center  
rvila@unc.edu 
919.843.3474