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Planetarium's starry nights just got a whole lot brighter

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Rhys Logan

Each of the 45 seats in Western’s planetarium has a stunning view of the universe, thanks to a new state-of-the-art projection system.

The planetarium, on the third floor of Wilson Library, recently received a $350,000 digital projector system that draws upon the most comprehensive set of astronomical data ever assembled to project high-resolution, three-dimensional images onto the

planetarium dome.

The planetarium also received a new name, the Dr. Leslie E. Spanel Planetarium, in memory of Western’s longtime professor of Physics who passed away in 2002. Spanel’s wife, former State Sen. Harriet Spanel, donated funds for the projector and other planetarium upgrades in her husband’s memory.

“He saw the planetarium being important to the community and to younger students,” Harriet Spanel says. “For me, giving this gift was the appropriate and right thing to do for him and the area he loved.”

In addition to images of night skies, stars, planets and constellations, the new system can also project three-dimensional images and video. Plans are to expand the planetarium’s academic use beyond the sciences as well as expand access to the public and to K-12 schools.