Loras College Honors Program to Unveil New Projector for Heitkamp Planetarium

For Immediate Release
February 21, 2019

Director of Communications & Marketing
Office: 563.588.7407

DUBUQUE, Iowa – On Friday, Feb. 22, the Loras College Honors Program will unveil its newest completed project, the purchase and installation of the EMERALD-FIXED projector. Financial support for this initiative came via grants, crowd funding campaigns as well as philanthropy efforts from alumni and friends of the College.

Guests are welcome to attend the ribbon cutting and unveiling event, beginning at 4:30 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., the official program will begin with remarks from Dr. Erin VanLaningham, director of the Honors program, Dr. Kristen Thompson, associate professor of physics and engineering, as well as the students involved in the project.

As sophomores, the group consisting of Celia da Silva (’19), Natalie Droeske (’19), Austin Kuchenbecker (’19), Audrey Miller (’19) and Jacob Till (’19) began this project as part of the Loras College Honors program with the help from VanLaningham and Thompson as project and program advisors.

The original projector inside of Heitkamp Planetarium was installed as part of the building’s construction in 1963 and was limited in its terrestrial view, featuring most of the stars that can be seen from Earth, the other planets in the solar system and the Milky Way.

With the EMERALD-FIXED projector, visitors to the Heitkamp Planetarium now have the ability to view atmospheric events, such as the effect of light pollution, identify the names of constellations and notable space objects, connect the dots of constellations in addition to the simulation of both an eclipse and a meteor shower.

Additionally, because the EMERALD-FIXED projector is not limited to the view from Earth, it can also transport the viewer to any object in its pre-built database, including the solar system, stars and many galaxies, while also possessing the ability to “land” on any planet and view the sky, such as the viewing of the rings of Saturn.

Following Friday’s public unveiling and ribbon cutting, members of the public are encouraged to attend two showings that are scheduled during the spring academic semester on March 8 and April 5. Both of these shows are hosted by current Loras College students.

On average, Heitkamp Planetarium hosts classes and events for 2,500 annually, a number which could see growth with the addition of the EMERALD-FIXED project, especially since it is the only functioning planetarium within a 100-mile radius.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2018, Loras was the highest ranked Catholic college in the state of Iowa according to College Consensus, the 13th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 10th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).