Cape Fear Museum has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Corning Incorporated Foundation to assist with the purchase of a new digital, portable planetarium.
An integral educational component of the Museum’s current STEM programming is Starlab, the existing portable planetarium. Purchased in 1995, the Museum’s Starlab has served thousands of visitors, is a tool for collaborating partners and is the most used educational equipment the Museum offers. Years of travel and use has taken a toll on the Starlab. Replacements parts are only available through scavenged old equipment and bulbs are no longer made for the Starlab system. The age of the system causes problems in delivering accurate astronomy content – small holes in the dome appear to be bright stars, moon phases equipment is poorly designed, and replacement old-fashioned cylinders are prohibitively expensive.
To replace the Starlab, the Museum researched and compared portable systems and chose the Digitalis Zeta System, a digital planetarium system, at a cost of $40,000. The digital technology used in a Digitarium system offers more flexibility, capability and cost effectiveness than portable analog (pinhole) systems like the Museum’s existing Starlab.
Museum Education Manager Amy Thornton says, “The support of the Corning Incorporated Foundation has been invaluable to Cape Fear Museum and is especially exciting this year as we pursue acquisition of a new digital portable planetarium system. With the improved technology and accessibility of modern systems, Cape Fear Museum hopes to continue building a love of science and culture in area students and the New Hanover County community.”
Over the years, the Corning Incorporated Foundation has contributed more than $140 million through its programs of giving. Resources are directed almost exclusively toward initiatives which improve the quality of life in and near communities where Corning Incorporated is an active corporate citizen. Currently, the Foundation annually fulfills approximately 125 grants totaling approximately $7.2 million.