Ohio planetarium gets NASA funding to develop free-to-share content for planetariums worldwide

by Tom Anstey | 01 Apr 2016

The Ward Beecher Planetarium at Youngstown State University (YSU) in Ohio, US, has been awarded US$650,000 (€584,600, £455,300) in funding by NASA to support development of 3D animation and fulldome visual materials to be distributed for free to planetariums worldwide.

The grant is part of a US$11.5m (€10.3m, £8m) five-year agreement between NASA and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), which is expanding citizen science and educational activities through CosmoQuest – an online virtual reality programme inviting the world to explore the universe.

Teaming up with CosmoQuest, the planetarium will develop new creative commons-licensed content that can be freely used and modified. Called “Project Science”, the shareware will be produced through an online depository of data visualisations.

“The central goal of CosmoQuest is to bring science to the people, and to get them involved,” said Patrick Durrell, YSU associate professor of Astronomy and director of the planetarium. “One of the best ways to do that is through the many planetariums throughout the world.”

With the funding, YSU will hire a content designer to create the videos and images, with the appointment of a student to assist. The funds also will be used to upgrade the planetarium’s computing facilities and to purchase a new high-resolution fulldome system.

Ward Beecher Planetarium  Youngstown State University  Ohio  Planetarium  CosmoQuest 
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The Ward Beecher Planetarium at Youngstown State University (YSU) in Ohio, US, has been awarded US$650,000 (€584,600, £455,300) in funding by NASA to support development of 3D animation and fulldome visual materials to be distributed for free to planetariums worldwide. The grant is part of a US$11.5m (€10.3m, £8m) five-year agreement between NASA and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), which is expanding citizen science and educational activities through CosmoQuest –
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Teaming up with CosmoQuest, the planetarium will develop new creative commons-licensed content that can be freely used and modified
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