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James S. McDonnell Planetarium Features New State-of-the-art LED System
The James S. McDonnell Planetarium features a new state-of-the-art LED system that illuminates the building's iconic shell in stunning colors on a nightly basis. Photo courtesy Saint Louis Science Center
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), December 11, 2013 - Beginning December 12, The Saint Louis Science Center will light up the James S. McDonnell Planetarium with a state-of-the-art LED system that will illuminate the building's iconic shell in stunning colors on a nightly basis for the first time in nearly four years.
"We think this is a wonderful way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Planetarium and provide a reminder of this community's iconic science learning resource," said Bert Vescolani, president and CEO, Saint Louis Science Center. "We are restoring the original lighting concepts but with updated technology that is more energy efficient and reduces maintenance."
In addition to saving money and energy, the new system provides an extraordinary array of colors - as many as 16 million color variations, images and movement.
The original lighting system, installed in late summer of 2002, consisted of 12 pole-mounted lighting fixtures set around the Planetarium that worked off colored lenses with a mechanical element to change colors. The system allowed for a single color, multiple bands of color and even custom colors for special events such as baseball or hockey playoffs. At 800 watts each, the lamps consumed a lot of energy and had an average life of only 3,000 hours. Lamps were replaced annually at a cost of about $3,000. By 2007, the lighting system was outdated and failing to produce color.
"It simply wore out," said John Wharton, managing director of facilities. "We limped along with just white lights on the Planetarium's shell for a few years."
The new system consists of 24 color-wash LED lights mounted on the repurposed original 12 poles. There are six gobo projectors that can produce moving or static images, patterns and pictures. The LED system is more energy efficient. "From 800 watts a pole down to 250 watts, that's a 70 percent reduction in energy," said Wharton. The new lights are more affordable and are expected to last 10 to 12 years with little or no maintenance. The Science Center staff did most of the design and installation work. The entire project, including fixtures, cost $100,000.
This is one of several innovative accomplishments recently undertaken by the Science Center to advance sustainability. This week, the Science Center is being recognized as a Circle of Excellence award winner by the St. Louis Regional Chamber at the 2013 Green Business Challenge ceremony.
The St. Louis Science Center is located just south of Forest Park. The facility is connected to the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park via a walkway across Highway 64. Visitors can enjoy numerous interactive exhibits and educational programs in a space station environment.
Boeing Hall, a new 13,000-square-foot exhibition addition to the Saint Louis Science Center, provides a needed venue to better accommodate traveling exhibitions, and provide space to house unique educational activities on a distinctive, green rooftop terrace.
Visitors will experience the simulation of a space launch as they are transported via the 'StarShuttle' (elevator) to the facility's two upper levels, collectively called the Boeing Space Station. In the SkyBay, over 9,000 twinkling stars and glowing planets can be seen slowly moving across the new 80 sq. ft. dome.
Monday - Thursday & Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m
Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
(Planetarium closes at 4:30 p.m. on Friday)
Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
There is no admission fee to the Science Center. However, there is a nominal charge for shows in the OMNIMAX® Theater, the Planetarium and some traveling exhibitions in the Exploradome. For more information, call 314-289-4400 or 1-800-456-7572.
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