Frequently asked questions pertaining to the Coshocton Planetarium

| March 10, 2016

Editor’s note: The Committee to Save the Coshocton Planetarium is led by Ron Derewecki, who will occasional submit this column to The Beacon addressing questions and concerns about the project.

How does having a planetarium benefit our students?
The planetarium is a strong source for cross curriculum activities. But it is also a strong source of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) which is part of a recent federal initiative. Many people think that the planetarium is used only for viewing the constellations, the moon, and slides of the planets. This may have been the case at one time. But the planetarium and its programs have evolved into valuable teaching piece of equipment. The new and upgraded planetarium uses computers to generate the programs. Students can use the computer to prepare their own programs whether they be in science or art; measure angular distances between the stars and then calculate the distance in light years; or how long it will take to get there based on today’s technology. There are numerous science topics that can be discussed and viewed in the planetarium.

On the campus of the school system is a new observatory with a new 12 1/2 inch telescope. This telescope will be connected to the projector in the planetarium so students will have a real time view of celestial objects.

Will county schools get to go to the planetarium?

The county schools were always invited to bring their students to the planetarium. The school or the teacher had to call to make reservations for the class wishing to attend. There was a problem with scheduling due to how frequently the city’s elementary students went to the planetarium. The elementary classes went anywhere from three to five times each. There was not a lot of time available for other school districts to use the planetarium. Plus, there was no air conditioning in the planetarium and consequently it was too hot in September and May to use it. We want the restored planetarium to have air conditioning so more time is available to use it. I am suggesting that the city’s elementary students go two to three times per classroom. The number will be based on the curriculum that is followed. I don’t know how often the high school students will come but since it will be located in their building they should be able to use it during their regular science class. There should be adequate time to schedule county school children. The county schools will still be responsible for their transportation. If the city’s elementary classes go less, this will free up time for the county schools. A lot will depend on the schedule of the person operating the planetarium. But, before the planetarium was dismantled, I trained four elementary teachers on how to operate the planetarium. This means that the elementary classes will not be tied to the planetarium director’s schedule.

Are there going to be public shows?

At this time we are planning to have public shows. We want several upgrades that will enable us to do public shows that will be compelling and able to hold the attention of our digital age society. The old planetarium was designed as an educational device. Without a number of auxiliary projectors, it was difficult to have presentable public shows. People were used to seeing the type of planetarium show that COSI presented. We still may not be able to do everything that COSI does, but we are going to be a lot closer. The main upgrade that we want is a full dome projector. This will permit us to project any photo or video onto the entire dome not just a small segment of the dome. We also can purchase or lease programs that are commercial ones. These are the type that COSI uses.

How many people does the planetarium seat?

The original seating in the planetarium was bench seats. We could seat about 75 adults but close to 100 elementary students. In 2004 they changed the seating from the bench seats to theater seats. There were 30 theater seats installed. In our desired upgrades, we want new theater seats like the ones in the Ohio State planetarium. According to the architectural drawings, there are 50 theater seats to be installed in the restored Coshocton planetarium.

How much is this project going to cost?

Some of our costs are estimates at this time but the entire cost is projected to be $400,000. On Feb. 15, the architect visited the school and collected information on the heating/cooling systems and electrical service. He is preparing more accurate drawings of the renovation work that needs to be done. When he completes this phase of the project, we will be able to get a more accurate cost.

How do you plan on raising the money for this project?

We plan on asking for donations from individuals, businesses, foundations, the state government, and social organizations. So far we have raised $72,000. We are still applying to various foundations, and sending out letters to businesses and individuals requesting donations. We have filed an application with the Montgomery Foundation, but the Montgomery Foundation does not meet until sometime in April. The Schooler Foundation has changed their method of accepting applications. First you must send a letter of inquiry to them (which we have done). They will let us know by May 1 if they want us to send in a detailed application. So right now, it is a waiting game for these two foundations. The number of people making donations has slowed down. We also have not received many donations from local businesses. We have done one mailing requesting donations from businesses and we are planning a second mailing. I realize that many other organizations are asking for funds at this time. Our asking for funds is a onetime thing. Once we reach our goal, we will no longer ask for donation in the near future.


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