Published Dec. 4, 2012
By Lisa Loevsky, KNDU TV
Columbia Basin College is getting a very powerful new tool for education and entertainment, the Bechtel National Planetarium.
The $1.3-million construction project began last June and was funded by Bechtel National Inc., the Community Enrichment Foundation, and the CBC Foundation. The structure is connected to CBC's D building and features a Spitz XD high definition projection system, considered the finest in the industry. The dome is 36 feet in diameter, one of the largest in the state of Washington. The planetarium can seat up to 100 participants, making it the largest planetarium/digital theatre in the state.
Astronauts Charlie Duke and Story Musgrave will address the dedication ceremony along with CBC officials and donors Wednesday 10:00am. Following the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony, a film festival will run from 12:30 p.m. until 9 p.m, including The Wonder of it All, Black Hole, and 41.
The planetarium was built to increase interest in math and science education through the Astronomy program and as a community resource.
Planetarium Director Mike Durst says the school is committed to allowing K-12 students in the community to use it as a learning tool free of charge weekdays 9:00am to noon. "Because it has these capabilities to both do flat screen projection as well as full dome emersion, and view the stars, you can just as easily view sharks in water, or dinosaurs crossing a plain, as it is watching stars going across the sky, it's just amazing,"Durst said.
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