A Re-Awakening: Pacific Planetarium
2023-11-10 / Kat Hunt / Community Engagement
It was an unusually bright weekend in the small city of Bremerton, WA. Locals and visitors alike were enjoying crisp blue skies and stark white snow caps atop the Olympic Mountains in the distance. During what was unseasonably clear for Washington State in October, the blue paint that coated the converted firehouse on Pacific Ave would have almost blended in with the sky if not for the pops of rich red and deep navy. Not many in town realized that behind these retro doors lie the cogs and lenses that drive all of space and time, or at least a simulation of it.
Pacific Planetarium was not only a window into the universe for Bremerton, but the builder of windows for other communities all over the country and the world to peer into. This was, in part, why the planetarium itself has had no public visitors over the last few years. Nearly four years after the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered its doors, it was now finally Pacific Planetarium’s turn to wake up and join the planetarium community once again in sharing stars.
As Saturday rolled around, the last dome ready for a new home was rolled into it's duffel, and replacing it in one of the bays adjacent to the planetarium lobby were floor puzzles, tabletop science activities, coloring tables, and more. Set along a backdrop of imaginative space creations from Bremerton’s youth, families both well familiar with the planetarium and brand new to planetariums, in general, waited excitedly to be transported…first to Hurricane Ridge, a short day drive away, and then all over the solar system. Joining local team members Director of Education and Co-Founder, Karrie, and Education Specialist, Dave, in presenting were Education Specialists, Kat, and Diana, from the East Coast.
For visitors, every show brought its own flavor and a new set of adventures depending on the audience and the pilot behind the controls for that half hour. Despite being the faces in the dome over the weekend, the re-awakening of Pacific Planetarium was very much a group effort that had brought the whole team together for a rare in-person company event on the Friday before. Just as it takes a dome full of people to bring Space and Time to others, it took a team to bring Space and Time to Bremerton Halloween weekend.
As the weekend wound down, the Education team at Digitalis felt a renewed sense of vigor. All of them had hung up their full-time pointers to jump the bridge between product operation and product development. The light, nevertheless, never fades; once a planetarian, always a planetarian. It is that enthusiasm that drives them all forward with every day and every new system. While the lasers in the Pacific Planetarium’s 4K Aethos system were no longer on Sunday evening and the colorful coves were now dark once more, they would be back the next day to share space with the whole world—the areas reclaimed by the dedicated production and software teams on site. Now that the Pacific Planetarium has returned from its long slumber behind the sky blue walls of the historic firehouse, little can put it to rest again. Bremerton will get more chances to explore the wonders of the Universe in a monthly offering of shows from this re-awakening forward.