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Frequently asked questions pertaining to the Coshocton Planetarium

| March 2, 2016

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.

With the planetarium being so old, does it still work? When I was the director of the planetarium, the school system had an annual maintenance agreement with the Spitz company (they made the planetarium). They would be there for three days taking the instrument apart cleaning and replace bad parts. When they completed their work, it was like getting a new instrument. I know that they did this from 1963- 2002. After I retired a different company did some work on the instrument, but I don’t know how frequently. The last time that I did any work with the instrument was in 2013 and it worked. It has been in storage since then.

Where is the planetarium stored? When Central Elementary School was razed, the school board hired Ash Enterprise of Richmond, Virginia to dismantle the planetarium. The instrument was taken apart and carefully packed in boxes. The dome came apart in sections and was stacked like Pringles. The whole thing is stored at the high school in a room off the balcony of the gym.

Where is the planetarium going to be set up? The Committee to Save the Coshocton Planetarium spent a great deal of time investigating this problem. We used the advice of a contractor, with a degree in engineering, and a retired architect. The first place that we looked was at the new elementary school. We wanted a place that if an addition to the building was made, we had access to having restroom close by. On the plus side, we thought that we could tap into the existing heating and cooling systems to make the planetarium more comfortable than the old planetarium, and then it could be used year round. We could not find a suitable place to make an addition.

We thought about constructing a new building. If we did this, we would have to add restrooms, a heating system, and air conditioning. The estimated cost was higher then what we thought we could raise.

We then turned to the high school; in fact, we looked at it twice. The first time we had one location that might work. But it was on the back side of the building and far from restrooms. You would have to walk the entire length of the building to get there. On our second view of the school, we did a little more accurate measuring. The dome of the planetarium is 24 feet and it goes up 20 feet. We knew that no classroom goes up 20 feet. So, the room must be somewhere on the top floor. We found a room where the diameter of the dome would just fit. It is room 412. For those of you who graduated some time ago, this room used to be a study hall with a slanted floor. Several years ago, the room was leveled so it could be used as a classroom. It is close to an outside entrance and the restrooms are nearby.

What grade levels will use the planetarium? Since I was director, the curriculum has changed for the elementary school classes. But as I see it, the planetarium can be used in any of the elementary classes whether it is part of the state curriculum or not. The use of the planetarium crosses over various subject matter. For instance, a story can be read in the classroom dealing with space travel and rocket ships. The students can then go to the planetarium and see a program that deals with the vastness of space and the different objects in space. In art class, students can make drawings of constellations and then go to the planetarium and see them. Or maybe in language class, students could write their own myths about a constellation. In math class, students learn about coordinates. In the planetarium they can learn how coordinates are used to locate places in the sky.

At the high school level the same thing holds true. The planetarium crosses over curriculums. In the science classes they can learn what stars are composed of by viewing spectrums of various light sources. They can study the focal lengths of various lenses and then build a simple telescope.

What I am trying to say is that in my opinion, as I said before, the planetarium can be used at any grade level. It may depend a little on the ingenuity and creativity of the planetarium director and the teachers.

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