MSU planetarium closes for renovations

Associated Press

East Lansing — Michigan State University’s planetarium has closed its 2015-16 season for building renovations.

The renovations at Abrams Planetarium will include new interactive touch screens, an electronic display previewing upcoming shows, fresh coats of paint and a handicap-accessible ramp, the Lansing State Journal reported.

The touch screens were bought using a $4,500 grant from the Dart Foundation. They’ll be displayed in the lobby, allowing kids to interact with stars and galaxies before setting foot inside the planetarium.

Planetarium director Shannon Schmoll said the improvements will pair nicely with the building’s $500,000 projection system that was added two summers ago.

“We’re still exploring our options with the new system,” she said. “But we can make full-color images to create more exciting programs for our visitors.”

Renee Leone, a co-founder of the Spartan Young Astronomers Club, said the changes are expected to be popular among the dozens of participants in the group in which children ages 8 to 12 can participate in various activities at the planetarium. Topics range from the moon’s formation to how it got its numerous craters.

“It’s relatively new technology coming to the planetarium and we plan to integrate as much of it as possible,” Leone said.

Planetarium staff will also add more artifacts from Talbert “Ted” and Leota Abrams, whose donations made the planetarium’s construction and opening in 1964 possible.

The planetarium will reopen for its 2016-17 season Sept. 23 with a show on the international competition to return to the moon.