Pierce College Fort Steilacoom campus is putting its final touches on what will be the South Sound’s only planetarium.
The 58-seat Science Dome is scheduled to open January 19 to the delight of science-lovers of all ages. Pierce College officials say the interactive facility has a 38’ dome-shaped screen that allows visitors to view the night sky from anywhere in the known universe on a cloudy day, be immersed in an alien environment with breathtaking full-dome images, explore the Egyptian pyramids, fly through the human body and a lot more.
The 38 foot domed ceiling will act as a giant screen for the Science Dome where anything from the night sky to a DNA helix will be projected. The dome is tilted at a 10 degree angle, dropping down near the front to provide a realistic virtual environment.
“The Science Dome is used in Pierce College’s astronomy, biology and chemistry classes. In the future, our digital design and theater classes will also be using it.,” said Science Dome coordinator Hillary Stephens.
Pierce College is sharing curriculum with the Pacific Science Center, Spokane Falls Community College and Columbia Basin College, all of which have planetariums
“This is also an opportunity for Pierce College to give the public access to something wonderful,” added Stephens.
The Science Dome will be available for scheduled school group visits and open to the public on certain nights during the week. Stephens said the schedule is being finalized, and will be posted on their website once it is available. Entrance fees to the facility are expected to be nominal.
“The Pierce College Foundation raised money for the Science Dome, but we want to charge as little as possible for the public to visit,” said Stephens.
Right now the fees are expected to be $6 for adults and $3 for kids. If you have a school group (K-12) wanting to visit the planetarium, the charge is $1 per student.
The grand opening ceremony on January 19, which is free to the public, will feature showings of the preschool show Planetary Explorers, and Mars: The Fourth Rock From The Sun. There will also be chemistry demonstrations and hands-on exploration stations. You can reserve show seats online.
Pierce College Fort Steilacoom is located at 9401 Farwest Drive S.W. in Lakewood.