Orange Coast College Planetarium completes construction
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Orange Coast College Planetarium completes construction

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The new planetarium at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, is now finished and will open on 23 March.

The US$23m (€20.3m, £17.3m) project broke ground in 2016 on the site of the previous planetarium at the college and is part of a larger seven-year US$965m (€854m, £727m) renovation to OCC’s district campuses called Vision 2020.

"I think the planetarium is going to be one of the best additions to this community the college has ever had," said Coast Community College District trustee David Grant.

"It’s going to bring community people in who’ve never been here. It’s going to give students STEM programs and an opportunity to be inspired, unlike anything any classroom can ever do."

Stretching across an area of 11,000sq ft (1,022sq m), the planetarium has 125 seats in total and will put on a range of shows, as well as housing a Foucault pendulum that demonstrates the Earth’s rotation and a ‘Science on a Sphere’ exhibit that explores an astronaut’s perspective on the Earth’s weather patterns.

Funding for the planetarium came from bond proceeds through Measure M — a college district finance initiative approved by voters in 2012 — and the OCC Foundation, as well as US$3m (€2.7m, £2.3m) in community donations.

"We’re so grateful to the community for supporting Measure M," said OCC interim president Kevin Ballinger. "I think they’re really going to see this campus in the next three years just take off."

The planetarium is now the second in Orange County, alongside Santa Ana College Planetarium. A special dedication ceremony is planned for 22 March before the opening day the following day, which will be the showcase of its first show Explore, which takes its audience on an imaginary trip to Mars.

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The new planetarium at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, is now finished and will open on 23 March.
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