Seeing stars

Planetarium working again

The LMC planetarium is back in operation.

The planetarium was inoperable during the spring 2013 semester because the star projector computers needed repair parts that could not be found online.

LMC hired technicians from Florida to fix the computer problem but the LMC maintenance department soon realized that the ground near the planetarium sank.

“Normally, the star projector is carried by an elevator in and out of a pit called the well,” said Physical Science Professor Scott Cabral.

The well tilted, causing the star projector to lean against one of the guide rails. The star projector rides up and down on three chains and controlled by a control rod and switches.

According to Cabral, the expertise and the ability to figure out how the elevator works is a testament of the superlative customer service and expertise of Glenn Sobolik and George Nelson of the LMC maintenance department.

“We found that over time the planetarium building had probably settled a little and this last earthquake that we had form Napa must have put the projector off of its center balance rending it inoperable,” said Glenn Sobolik, LMC lead maintenance mechanic.

Sobolik and Nelson worked on the projector for about three days to reset the elevator frame and structure.

“I was there when they first fired the projector back up…All of the students were cheering and the instructor,” added Sobolik. “Darrel Lim said he felt like a kid in a candy store. It had been so long since they had the projector working.

“I don’t know how much it would have cost for the original elevator company to come to LMC to do the repair work, but Glenn and George must have saved the college thousands of dollars with their hard work,” said Cabral. “I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate what they did to help the astronomy unit.”

The star projector is scheduled to have 40-minute shows about the basic ideas of astronomy for school groups by appointment. The planetarium has 58 seats and is located in room CC2-220 on the LMC campus. The planetarium lobby is at the level 2 entrance to the main college complex.

Astronomy, derived from the Greek words for star law and is one of the oldest sciences. It studies the celestial bodies; planets, moons meteorites and stars; it explores galaxies and investigates cosmic radiation, and tries to shed light on the origins and evaluation of the universe.

The LMC planetarium has a telescope viewing area on top of the science building for a night show called “The Sky Tonight.”

“It felt very satisfying to see and hear everyone so excited to be able to use their Goto’ Star projector again,” said Sobolik.