The Planetarium to Reopen July 1 with All-New System Offering Brighter, Sharper Images
Reopening includes enhanced cleaning protocols, alternate row seating and more
Wednesday, July 1, will mark the second phase of reopening for The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature when we will reopen our popular Planetarium to guests. The theater will open with the newly installed latest-generation system, enhanced cleaning protocols, and new seating procedures designed to keep guests as safe as possible.
The Planetarium is the premier astronomy facility on Florida’s west coast — and its new Digistar 6 system is 1½ times brighter than the previous system and has four times the contrast, thanks to the new state-of-the-art projection system and software.
The Bishop upgraded The Planetarium during its temporary closure in the spring to be able to offer an even better experience to guests.
“If you’ve ever wondered what a black hole ‘looks’ like or wondered how it affects objects around it — now we can show you,” said Howard Hochhalter, manager of The Planetarium. “Guests will really see the difference our new Digistar 6 digital system makes — we now have brighter, better contrast, and together with the size of our Planetarium dome, that allows us to recreate a dark sky natural environment and give viewers an even better experience. One of the most exciting things is that now we’ll actually be able to show how black holes affect the objects around them, including how they bend light in surprising ways.”
The reopening of The Planetarium also comes with a new live show and enhanced cleaning protocols.
“It was important for us to take as much time as we needed to properly prepare our reopening sanitation protocols for The Planetarium,” said Brynne Anne Besio, Museum CEO. “We’re confident that we’re doing the absolute best we can for our visitors and are excited to welcome them back to show them one of the major upgrades we were able to make during our temporary closure.”
The first picture of a black hole was made using observations of the center of galaxy M87 taken by the Event Horizon Telescope. The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole 6.5 billion times the Sun’s mass. The Planetarium’s new Digistar 6 projection system and software allow us to show how black holes affect objects around them. Image Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration
- To ensure a minimum of 6 feet of social distance between guests, viewers will be seated in every other row with at least three seats between groups in the same row. Rows will alternate for each showing, with frequently touched surfaces wiped down between shows. The Bishop staff will also use a mister to sanitize seats.
“These enhanced protocols follow CDC guidelines,” Besio said. “We’re continuing to require guests to wear masks, follow our new one-way route through the Museum and purchase timed tickets online that allow for hands-free check-in. These precautions are all designed to keep our staff and guests as safe as possible.”
During this phase of reopening, The Planetarium will feature a new presentation:
- “Flight Through Our Solar System” is a 10-minute narrated talk that will begin at the sun then travel through our solar system — including the asteroid belt — past Pluto and the other outer planets, until we arrive at the icy outer reaches of the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud, located on the outer fringe of our solar system.
The new Digistar 6 system will also allow The Bishop to share live on-air events — like the recent launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon Rocket — as they happen.
“We joke that our Planetarium is perfect for star nerds — people who are most passionate about astronomy,” Hochhalter said. “But I think this new system is perfect for everyone — from newbies to dedicated amateurs, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it in action!”
New Admission Prices
- Adults 18-64: $20
- Seniors (65+): $19
- Youth (12-17) and College Students (with ID): $16
- Children (5-11): $12
- Children 4 and younger: Free with paying adult
Please note that the Mosaic Backyard Universe remains temporarily closed.