Allentown School District to open new planetarium
Astronomy lovers can travel through space and check out the constellations at the Allentown School District’s new planetarium, the Learning Dome, during a weekend in October.
On Oct. 5 and 6 the district will conduct three showings each day at its revamped planetarium for the community, according to the district’s website. The showings, at Dieruff High School, are free, but tickets are required and can be reserved online.
Forty seats are available for each show, which will last 45 minutes. Tickets must be printed. The shows will start at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on both days. The astronomy shows will be led by Allentown teachers who have received special training to use the system.
This is the first time the Learning Dome will be open to the general public. The Allentown School District revealed the new planetarium at an August event for business leaders, community members and school board members. The district had been working to reopen the planetarium since at least 2016, but struggled with the cost of new equipment. Dieruff’s planetarium opened in 1965, but closed in 2010 when teacher Gary Becker retired after almost 40 years in the position.
With donations from local businesses, led by Lee Butz, of Butz Construction, and state funding secured by Republican state Sen. Pat Browne, more than $400,000 was raised to pay for the equipment and renovations. The Learning Dome will be used for not only astronomy, but also for subjects such as ecology, environmental science, geology, biology and anatomy.
The new facility includes software showing students a threedimensional universe that allows them to explore stars and galaxies. Depending on the class, teachers can use the software to travel through different layers of Earth, teach how hurricanes and earthquakes are formed, and explore the human body.
Morning Call reporter Jacqueline Palochko can be reached at 610-820-6613 or at jpalochko @mcall.com.
The view inside Allentown School District’s newly refurbished planetarium, called the Learning Dome, at Dieruff High School in Allentown.