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Lasers, music, stars to take over Columbia Public Schools planetarium

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 | 7:02 p.m. CST
The Radiant Pro 60, a laser light show projection machine, is demonstrated Tuesday at Rock Bridge High School.

COLUMBIA — A kaleidoscope of faces danced to the fast beat of Carly Rae Jepsen's famous song "Call Me Maybe" inside the Columbia Public Schools planetarium. Only it's not a live concert, but a laser light show with music blaring through the speakers and stars twinkling across the dome.

"This is the first time that we've had the show," said Melanie Knocke, director of the planetarium.

During the hit songs, the lasers came together to create the outline of human faces, lips and flowers.

The Lasers, Music and Stars week will be at the planetarium at Rock Bridge High School from Thursday to Sunday. The show will bring to the public a series of laser lights tuned to rock 'n' roll classics from the Beatles, Pink Floyd, U2 and current top-40 hits, as well as a chance to see an accurate representation of the stars in the night sky.

"It's fun for the public," Knocke said. "(There's) not so much an educational function this time."

The show's viewers can sit back, enjoy the laser light display, listen to the music, and at last have a constellation tour under the planetarium's 40-foot-tall dome.

Each laser show will last 40 to 45 minutes, with laser lights changing to different shapes and colors to visualize the music and bring it to life. After the dazzling lasers fade away, the star ball in the center of the planetarium rises halfway up the dome and sets the stars in the right time and location — like a simulation of the real night sky, Knocke said.

And the magic tool that makes all this happen is called a full-color laser system, which consists only of a laser box and a controlling computer.

"This one box is the laser show," Knocke said.

The planetarium rented the laser tool from a high-tech laser show company called Prismatic Magic, Knocke said. And the rent is $500 per week.

Knocke said the laser shows are open to the public and will cost $5 per person, which will help pay for the equipment rental and raise money for more planetarium events.

"We are investigating," she said. "If it's quite popular, we will bring it back next year."

The planetarium also plans to bring the show to other Columbia schools if it gets positive feedback this time, Knocke said.

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.


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