"We just had a new LED lighting upgrade, so the lighting is much more realistic,"
With the start of the 2014-15 school year, Saporito has stepped behind the controls of the planetarium, taking the place of high school science teacher
Built in 1966, the planetarium is a classroom with a dome-shaped ceiling designed for astronomy classes. The lighting system attached to the perimeter of the dome was outdated. This was the first time such a upgrade was done on the lighting system on the perimeter of the planetarium's dome,
"It was a system which used 400-watt bulbs. We can't get the bulbs anymore, and 75 percent of them are out. The bulbs are no longer manufactured. The last time we had some that were burned out we actually bought used ones. We bought those on
"They were incandescent standard bulbs that were becoming increasingly hard to replace. And they kind of were a fire hazard," Saporito said Wednesday.
"LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. An LED is a semi-conducting device that produces light when an electrical current flows through it. An LED is a light source that has no filament, which is the major component that fails in HID (High-Intensity Discharge lamps), fluorescent and incandescent light due to vibration and striking of the filament," according to the website for Graybar,
The new lighting at the planetarium is a Philips Color Kinetics LED system, according to Saporito.
Just inside the door to the planetarium is the control station. Previously, two knobs controlled the lights. Both are the diameter of flapjacks.
"You'd have to manually control blue and yellow lights and brightness and intensity. There was no programming. You'd have to do it on the fly. So this is completely obsolete now. We're working on getting cover plates for these," Saporito said.
The new control panel is smaller, flat, resembles a two-port electrical outlet. It has 11 buttons.
"It's a touch panel hooked up to a network wireless device. This system is much more functional than the old one. There's a computer program I'm trying to learn that will allow us to make patterns and different color combinations. I think I can add 100 different programs," Saporito said.
On Wednesday, he was able to demonstrate a few, including the dark blues of twilight, which appeared so realistic it was as if the ceiling wasn't there at all.
"To simulate a sunset, we practiced over and over trying to get it right. There's this reddish-orange hue, then, as the sun sets, the sky goes to this dark blue and the night sky will gradually come into view," he said as he ran the light show on the dome.
The planetarium is one part of the high school's
They are accessible on the third floor of the high school building at
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