Stargazing in Twin Falls is a high-tech affair. That is, it will be when the Faulkner Planetarium at the College of Southern idaho reopens with a $750,000 upgrade Tuesday, Nov. 19.
This morning's Twin Falls Times News reports that the refitted planetarium will feature a new projection system, LED cove lighting and Dolby surround sound. The projector, referred to as a "full-dome system," means images of the night sky will soon be projected across the facility's entire 50-foot dome screen.
The upgrade took seven weeks to complete, but the reopening couldn't come at a better time—Nov. 19 is the planetarium's 18th birthday; to celebrate, a total of 14 shows are scheduled for the next week. Two prizes will be given to audience members at each show, according to the Times News, including a one-year pass to the planetarium.
Debuting at the planetarium on Nov. 19: Violent Universe: Catastrophes of the Cosmos, narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart at 7 p.m., plus a live sky tour followed by Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure, from National Geographic at 8 p.m.
The Faulkner Planetarium is located at 315 Falls Ave., in Twin Falls.
A team of University of idaho scientists are part of a team of NASA researchers from throughout the nation, that reveled some out-of-this-word images Oct. 24: a new view of Titan, Saturn's moon.
A sun covered Titan, and a slight break in the usually haze filled sky, allowed NASA's Cassini spacecraft to obtain new pictures of the liquid methane and ethane seas and lakes on the moon’s north pole. Starwatchers said the new images give clarification to how lakes may have formed and how Titan’s Earth-like hydrologic system involves hydrocarbons rather than water.
University of Idaho Department of Physics associate professor Jason Barnes said that Cassini’s high resolution images and infrared mapping spectrometer gave researchers and scientists a much clearer view of a space that was previously too difficult to see.
The Cassini mission was launched in 1997, in NASA's partnership with the Italian Space Agency and the European Space Agency. Cassini has been exploring the Saturn system since 2004 and will continue before leaving its orbit in 2017. A full Saturn year is equivalent to 30 years on Earth.
The Cygnus space freighter, built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, launched aboard an Antares Rocket this morning from the Wallops Spaceport in Virginia.
That makes OSC the second private company, along with SpaceX, to contract with NASA to resupply its space missions.
Cygnus' next step is to reach 240 kilometers above the Earth, where it will enter a synchronous orbit with the International Space Station, dock and unload its cargo—some 1,500 pounds of food and equipment—Monday, Sept. 23.
NASA's contract with OSC is worth $1.9 billion for eight trips to the ISS.