science cinema
The Evolution of Planetariums. Part 2
How the inflatable domes work
In the classical sense, the planetarium is a separate building equipped with the complex engineering and devices for demonstration of skydome, the space objects and etc. Such educational organizations require substantial costs and do not function in every city. The development of modern technologies and digital products has led to designing the alternative version of the classic planetariums. That is how the portable planetariums have been created about 10 years ago.
Portable planetarium is a spherical dome inside of which the fulldome films are shown with the help of projectors and special coverage in the role as a screen.
Portable planetarium, first of all, is a dome made of durable material. The image is projected on the inner surface to 360 degrees. The equipment needed includes a projector, a special hemispherical mirror and a dome that can be of two types: permanent or portable, depending on the application.
Photo credit: airandspace.si.edu
The most popular type of dome is inflatable one. Such domes are often used for touring planetaria visiting, for example, schools and community centers. Such construction is pretty lightweight and compact that makes it easy to move both inside and outside. Dome capacity varies from 15 to 30 kids for one session. Spectacular films let children to gain knowledge and broaden their minds.
Are there any disadvantages?
This type of planetariums has a lot of advantages in comparison with the classical ones. There is no limitation related to your geographical location. The owners can bring the equipment to any place and any school. Students at schools, by the way, are the most frequent visitors. The repertoire of fulldome films that are shown does not concede the expensive planetariums built a long time before. These are the same content studios that sell license to have the right to demonstrate their shows. The average price on a high-quality planetarium with the inflatable dome is about
$20 000.
Photo credit: blooloop.com
Though, with all these perfect characteristics there is one issue we cannot ignore. The quality of a picture in portable planetariums is much worse.
LCD and DLP projectors are used for dome projection more often. They have fundamental limits on their ability to project true black as well as light, which has tended to limit their use in the planetarium. It is enough to present kids unforgettable emotions and give them basic knowledge of how our universe works.

However, the problem was successfully solved about a year ago. Read how in the next part of the article.
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