Marie Drake Planetarium

Where the stars always shine in Juneau, Alaska

Newspaper Articles - 1990 

Group asking school officials to set their sights on the stars

by Ed Schoefeld for the Juneau Empire (edited)

The Juneau City-Borough Board of Education will do some stargazing on Tuesday night.  

As part of its regular meeting, the board will visit the Marie Drake Middle School planetarium, where it will hear from a group interested in encouraging the school district to make more use of the facility.

The planetarium, which projects images of stars onto a domed ceiling, was part of science and general education classes, but has not been in regular use for many years.

The equipment still works, said Bill Leighty, a member of the group urging expanded use of the planetarium. "It could use a little cleaning and lubrication, but generally it works fine," he said.

The group has been running shows for students and community group for the past year, he said.

The plaetarium is currently used as a compute room, but that use may change after Marie Drake's students, equipment and staff move to a new Lemon Creek-area middle school. When the new middle school opens in 1993, Juneau-Douglas High School and Harborview Elementary School will expand into Drake.

Leighty said his group would like the district to look at using the room as a planetarium after the building change takes place.

The main cost involved would be seating. The old theater-style seating was removed about five years ago and no one seems to know what happened to it, Leighty said.

Replacement cost would be $185 to $285 per chair, and between 30 and 50 chairs would be needed, he said.

The planetarium would be operated by volunteers, as it is now, he said. 

"The primary value of the planetarium is to help people understand what the sky would look like from any place on earth and explain why the sky appears to move and to show to us earthbound observers why the sky changes during the seasons," he said.