The Williamsville Central School District on Friday officially re-opened its Space Lab Planetarium, following nearly $300,000 in renovations that updated the 45-year-old facility.

The planetarium, which is located at Williamsville North High School, 1595 Hopkins Road, Amherst, now has a new hemispheric dome and upgraded computer control system for the star projector.

Additionally, repairs were made to the roof. All of the renovations were completed in the fall.

The planetarium was developed in 1969 as an astronomy lab. It is now a high-tech multimedia learning resource for students. The 75-seat facility features a Spitz A5 mechanical star projector.

The planetarium also includes a full-dome projection system that uses six video projectors and has the capability of creating three-dimensional, real-time astronomical visualizations.

The upgrades to the planetari- um were conducted after State Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer in June secured a $290,000 grant to pay for the renovations.

He said the updates have made the planetarium state-of-the-art and the facility will benefit not only Williamsville students, but also students across Western New York for years to come.

“The Space Lab Planetarium is such an important tool for our teachers because it sparks imaginations and illustrates concepts in ways that are not possible for the classroom,” Ranzenhofer said.
The Williamsville Education Foundation worked with Ranzenhofer in securing the grant.

District Superintendent Scott Martzloff said the revitalized planetarium was the result of “an amazing example of school-community collaboration.”

“The Education Foundation relentlessly pursued the grant and with the assistance and leadership of Senator Ranzenhofer, one of Western New York’s most unique learning resources has been preserved for future generations,” Martzloff said.

The Space Lab Planetarium, which is directed by science instructor Mark Percy, offers evening public shows in the winter and early spring. Each program is free and open to the public.

Seating is available on a first-to-arrive basis. Each program will be followed by an outdoor observing session with telescopes if weather permits.

A complete list of space lab programming is available on the district’s website at

   As published in The Amherst Bee January 2014


The Williamsville Space Lab Planetarium officially re-opened Friday following renovations that included the installation of a new control system for the star projector, which is shown above. From left are Trey Measer, president of the Williamsville Education Foundation, State Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer, Williamsville Superintendent Scott Martzloff, Planetarium Director Mark Percy and Michael Rossetti.