New Mexico Museum of Space History
Alamogordo – In the early 1980’s, the New Mexico Museum of Space History proudly opened the Clyde W. Tombaugh IMAX Dome Theater & Planetarium – a state of the art facility and the only one of its kind for hundreds of miles. Named after the discoverer of the smallest planet, the theater boasted one of the smallest domes in the world with eye-popping clarity and an up close and personal experience enhanced by futuristic surround sound. Visitors were amazed and flocked to see it.
Almost 40 years later, that system is severely outdated and the wet film it uses is nearly extinct so on May 15 the theater temporarily closed for the installation of the world’s first Spitz Scidome 4k Laser fulldome planetarium projection system. It will replace the existing IMAX projector and the old “starball”.
The grand “re-opening” of the theater is scheduled for July 1 and not only will the theater itself sport a brand new projector system, but it’s also getting a new name – the New Horizons Dome Theater and Planetarium, after the NASA spacecraft that recently flew by Pluto. The building that houses the theater will be re-christened as the Clyde W. Tombaugh Education Center to more fully reflect its role at the museum.
The opening weekend of the New Horizons Dome Theater will feature the recently released large format movie Journey to Space, which takes moviegoers on a behind-the-scenes look at the multi-national effort to send humans to Mars. Grammy award winner Patrick Stewart, best known for his roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men, narrates the movie. All new digital star shows and full dome planetarium programs will rotate hourly with Journey to Space.
“The words stunning and amazing cannot fully describe the spectacular images our audiences will be immersed in,” said Museum Executive Director Chris Orwoll. “This new theater experience will completely engage the audience’s imagination with the indescribable beauty and vibrancy of the universe.”
Orwoll expressed his appreciation to the City of Alamogordo and the State Legislature for making the upgrades possible. “It started when the Alamogordo City Commission approved a $300,000 grant to upgrade the theater projection system, with the condition that the State would match those funds. With the help of area legislators and the Department of Cultural Affairs, not only did the state match the grant but exceeded it, making it possible for a complete theater overhaul,” said Orwoll. The theater is expected to close again in the fall for replacement of the dome itself.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, call (575) 437-2840, visit www.nmspacemuseum.org or like us at https://www.facebook.com/NMSpaceMuseum/.