The Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium
Thrills and Wonders Await You in the New Vanderbilt Reichert Planetarium
The Planetarium's William and Mollie Rogers Theater offers all-new programs for visitors of all ages. Before visiting, click the links below and check out the coming attractions. Then, stop by for a show, and fasten your seat belts for an amazing ride through space!
Planetarium Schedule — Winter 2014
Charles and Helen Reichert PlanetariumThe Planetarium is open Tuesday, Friday (nights only), Saturday and Sunday, with the first Saturday and Sunday show at noon and the last at 4:00—see schedule below. The Planetarium is closed on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
ObservatoryYear-round viewing of the night sky (weather permitting), Friday only, 9:00-10:00 (free with show ticket; $3.00 without show ticket)
NOTE: During the winter, although the Museum and Mansion close at 4:00 on Saturday and Sunday, the last Planetarium show of the day begins at 4:00.
February 14 – April 1
Tuesday2:00 — Black Holes – NEW!
Friday8:00 — Long Island Skies
9:00 — Classic Full-Dome Rock
(Bands include Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, U2, Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and The Doors)
Saturday12:00 — One World, One Sky
1:00 — Solar System Odyssey
2:00 — Black Holes – NEW!
3:00 — Stars
4:00 — To Space and Back
8:00 — Black Holes – NEW!
9:00 — Alternative Full-Dome Rock
(Bands include Nine Inch Nails, Beck, 311, Daft Punk, Radiohead, Muse and Smashing Pumpkins)
Sunday12:00 — One World, One Sky
1:00 — Solar System Odyssey
2:00 — Black Holes – NEW!
3:00 — Stars
4:00 — To Space and Back
New Show, Opening February 14
Black Holes: Journey into the Unknown
This exciting new program presents the latest information about the fascinating, extreme world of black holes. Witness what would happen if you got too close to one and see how a black hole is able to warp time and space. Produced in Australia by Melbourne Planetarium, Scienceworks Museum and Museum Victoria.
To Space and Back
(For everyone age 8 and up)
Take an amazing journey into the unimaginable vastness and beauty of space. See how space exploration is helping us to discover the mysteries of the Universe and how if affects the advanced devices we use every day.
(Adults and families)
Every star has a story. Some are as old as time, faint and almost forgotten. Others burn bright and end their lives in powerful explosions. New stars are created every day, born of vast clouds of gas and dust. Through every phase of their existence, stars release the energy that powers the Universe. Journey to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and experience both the awesome beauty and destructive power of Stars.
One World, One Sky
Elmo and Big Bird live in the United States and Hu Hu Zhu lives far away in China, but they discovered that they see the same stars at night.
Solar System Odyssey
(Age 10 and older)
Take a futuristic journey through the Solar System. With Earth's resources being rapidly depleted, a tycoon sends hero Jack Larson on a mission to discover a new home to colonize. This character-driven show is for middle-school field trip groups and aligns with science curriculum objectives. This is an original production of the University of North Carolina Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. Primary grant funding was provided by NASA.
Long Island Skies
This live presentation for the whole family, developed by the Vanderbilt Planetarium staff, uses the star projector to its fullest capabilities. The program introduces the brilliant night sky that can be seen on Long Island from everyone's backyard, including seasonal constellations, stars and deep-sky objects. Following the program, and weather permitting, the planetarium staff will open the Observatory. To enhance what they have just learned, visitors can look through the 16-inch Meade telescope to observe the objects discussed during the show.
March 1, 2013
At Planetarium, It's Not the Same Old SkyBy Aileen Jacobson
CENTERPORT, N.Y. — Standing behind the complex instrument panel that controls the gleaming Konica Minolta GeminiStar III projection system, Lorraine Vernola looks as though she could easily launch a spaceship, what with all the buttons, switches, computer screens and flashing lights in front of her. And in a sense, she can, at least virtually, for audiences inside the newly refurbished planetarium at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, the 43-acre former estate of William K. Vanderbilt II.
"This is the best spot in the house," said Ms. Vernola, the assistant director of public programming. She was in the domed planetarium building that was added in 1971, on the site of Vanderbilt's tennis courts.
(The centerpiece of the estate is his 24-room Spanish Revival house, completed in 1936.) The planetarium, which has just had a renovation that kept it closed for a year and a half, reopens to the public on March 15, but Ms. Vernola has scheduled her first school-group presentation for Thursday.
The renovation cost $4 million, of which $3.2 million went to the new projection system, which includes video and surround sound; constructing the pit into which it retracts; and lighting inside the room. The rest paid for costs like paint, new seats, a new ticketing system, lobby improvements, repairing roof tiles and renovating heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.
As Ms. Vernola demonstrated the round blue Infinium L star projector in the center of the room, part of the GeminiStar system, Lance Reinheimer, the Vanderbilt's interim executive director, said, "You'd think that you were lying on your back outside." The projector can throw out more than 300,000 fiber-optic points of light to simulate the Milky Way. It can also project 15,300 additional stars in more detail, Ms. Vernola said.
The equipment doesn't just show the mythical figures that constellations are named after, but also animates them, she added. "Orion the hunter can use his club," she said. "Taurus the bull can charge at Orion. Leo the lion can roar."
The system has far more features and flexibility than the 41-year-old one it replaced, Ms. Vernola said. With its two flanking video projectors, it can simulate going up in a spaceship to visit the stars, the Moon and other planets. For young children, the trip might include the "Sesame Street" characters Big Bird and Elmo as projected guides.
Ms. Vernola said she and her colleague David Bush, the planetarium's technical and production coordinator, were co-authoring the live shows that they create, which she narrates for school groups and he for Friday evening shows geared to adults and families. The Friday shows, based on what can be seen over Long Island that evening, are followed, weather permitting, by a visit to the planetarium's observatory in the same building for viewing the sky through a powerful three-year-old telescope.
Other weekend shows at the Vanderbilt Museum were produced by planetariums in Britain, China and the United States. "One World, One Sky," aimed at young children, stars Big Bird and Elmo with their friend Hu Hu Zhu, who lives in China. "Solar System Odyssey," for children ages 10 and older (though it depends on the child, Ms. Vernola said), takes a journey through the solar system and features animated characters. "Stars," for adults and families, combines some animation with real images to illustrate the creation, life cycles and destruction of stars. It is narrated by the actor Mark Hamill, with the Nashville Symphony performing part of the soundtrack.
For live or customized programs, either Ms. Vernola or Mr. Bush is at the control console, she said.
"Children hold onto their armrests when I crank up the sound," Ms. Vernola said. "They really do believe they're flying." She can also simulate an oncoming shower of asteroids. "I love hearing them scream," she said. Audience members sit in 147 new plush reclining seats.
In addition to family and group visits, Mr. Reinheimer said, the planetarium will be able to host corporate and other events. The star-projecting globe can be lowered below the sightlines of visitors, whose numbers can be increased to 160 with folding chairs, and a raised stage can be used for presentations, including concerts, plays and lectures.
The lobby, which will hold exhibits as well as a ticket booth, has blue-gray walls and a dark blue carpet, a color scheme that Mr. Reinheimer said was coordinated by Claudia Dowling, a Huntington interior designer who donated her services. The lighting will be dimmed when visitors arrive for shows, he said, to acclimate them to the darkness in the auditorium. (It will not be quite so dark for children's shows, Ms. Vernola said.)
On a recent visit, one wall of the lobby was being decorated by Jennifer Karow, an Oyster Bay decorative artist who also donated her work. As she primed the wall, she said it would depict "some larger galaxies" using sequins, sparkles, shiny glass beads, rhinestones, glitter and silver leaf. "I want to create a ‘wow factor,' " she said.
The main reason for the planetarium renovation, mostly financed by Suffolk County, is to increase the number of visitors to the museum and, thus, its income, Mr. Reinheimer said. The out-of-date equipment wasn't attracting as many individuals or groups as the museum wanted, he said. "As it aged, visitation dipped," he said. That drop began long before the museum faced a fiscal crisis a few years ago that threatened its existence. The crisis has been resolved, he said, through reduced spending and additional money from the county, fund-raising and other efforts to increase attendance and membership. The renovation plans, he said, "have been 15 years in the making."
The planetarium now can also better fulfill its other original goal, he added, which is to further the spirit of exploration and education held dear by Vanderbilt, who collected and displayed all kinds of artifacts and specimens — including a shrunken head, an Egyptian mummy and thousands of examples of marine life, for which he built a separate Hall of Fishes in 1922 — from numerous voyages around the world.
"We feel that if he were alive today, he would have approved of our teaching about celestial navigation," Mr. Reinheimer said. With the new equipment, which accepts satellite feeds from NASA, he said, "we can travel to the outer limits of the universe as we know it."
The Planetarium at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, will be open to adults and families Friday through Sunday from March 15 through June 16, with days added in the summer. During the day, shows are $5 in addition to museum admission, $3 to $7. In the evenings, when the museum is closed, show tickets are $7 to $9. Information: (631) 854-5579 or vanderbiltmuseum.org.
Vanderbilt Planetarium Reopens to Public on March 15
Audiences Will See Astonishing NASA Imagery, New Programs
Visitors to the Vanderbilt Planetarium's William and Mollie Rogers Theater will see not only new shows produced by planetariums in Britain, China and the United States, but also extraordinary NASA imagery recorded by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and other satellites. The ultra-high-definition video can take the audience on jaw-dropping journeys to the outer reaches of the Universe.
The planetarium console operator is effectively the pilot and controls the speed and direction of each flight:
- On one flight, Earth can be seen from faraway in space — with the bright, concentrated lights of America's huge metropolitan regions clearly visible. Then the trip can take the audience to Long Island or to anywhere else on the planet.
- One journey can take viewers from high above Mars down to the lunar surface, to a closeup of a lunar-exploration vehicle, then around the vehicle.
- Three new shows (with others to debut during the coming year) will appeal to a range of ages, from young children to adults. (See details below.) These shows, too, take the audience on breathtaking flights to the stars.
The Vanderbilt Planetarium's advanced Konica Minolta GeminiStar III system — including the Infinium-L star projector, full-dome video and surround-sound — offers audiences a spectacular, immersive experience.
"We're very excited," said Ronald Beattie, president of the Vanderbilt's Board of Trustees. "It's a new day at the Vanderbilt — our planetarium is now one of the finest and most advanced in the country. Visitors will be amazed at the imagery produced by cutting-edge technology. Our world-class planetarium will become a must-visit destination for local residents and regional visitors.
"The best part is that Long Islanders who grew up visiting the Vanderbilt Planetarium with their science classes and scout troops will now have a completely fresh and thrilling adventure. And many will be bringing their children or grandchildren for the first time."
Suffolk County provided $3.9-million in financing. The most significant private support— a gift of $100,000 — came from William Rogers, a longtime member of the Vanderbilt Museum Board of Trustees, and his wife, Mollie Rogers.
"We are especially grateful to Bill and Mollie Rogers," said Lance Reinheimer, interim executive director of the Vanderbilt. "They not only passionately support the museum and its education programs, but also believe strongly in its future and its enduring value to Long Island." The planetarium theater is named the William and Mollie Rogers Theater.
Suffolk County built the planetarium in 1971 as a way to produce operating income to supplement the museum's original Vanderbilt trust fund. The planetarium — also a testimony to William K. Vanderbilt II's keen interest in science and astronomy and his use of celestial navigation while traveling the oceans — coincides with the science-education aspect of the museum's mission.
In addition to technological and infrastructural improvements, enhancements include ergonomically designed seating, new carpeting, an on-line digital ticketing and reservation system, and a refurbished museum gift shop. The Vanderbilt's goal for the renewed facility is to substantially increase attendance and admissions revenue.
The renovation design allows the star projector to retract out of audience sight lines. This feature, along with removable rows of seating, will provide flexibility for the Rogers Theater to be a venue for lectures, performing arts and large-group meetings. Flexible theater space will allow the museum to expand its audiences, visibility and regional appeal, and will broaden its ability to generate income.Additonal Pages