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May 24, 2018

Planetarium Renewal at the Fuchu City Local Forest Museum utilizes GOTO CHIRON III

On May 1, 2018 Mr. Nobutaka Goto, president of the GOTO INC, was proud to join Museum Director Kazuyuki Ono for the grand re-opening of the Fuchu City Local Forest Museum’s Planetarium.  A total renewal of the astronomy section of the museum included a new CHIRON III planetarium star projector supplied by the nearby GOTO INC. CHIRON III projects 9,500 beautiful star images, a Milky Way consisting of 100 million stars, and is much, much smaller than the projector that it replaces.

Also included in the renovation was a new dome screen, new seating, four laser-powered 4K fulldome video projectors, sun, moon, and planet projectors, a HYBRID control console, and VIRTUARIUM X fulldome video simulation capability.  New astronomy themed exhibits by GOTO INC were also added outside the planetarium dome.

Details of renewal

The planetarium of the Fuchu City Local Forest Museum has a diameter of 23 meters, making it one of the largest in eastern Japan with a horizontal rather than tilted orientation. The combination of CHIRON III opto-mechanical projection, synchronized with VIRTUARIUM X fulldome video imagery qualifies it to be the ultimate in planetarium technology, a GOTO HYBRID Planetarium™. This technology is capable of reproducing a beautiful night sky across the dome, and to overlay colorful, dynamic, animated fulldome video images which complement the starry sky.

Each seat in the dome has an interactive audience response input panel in the armrest which feeds signals to a response analyzer which can study audience answers to quizzes or can take other program suggestions from school children and families. The planetarium interior has been upgraded to allow for many different types of events, staged performances, and lectures. Some seats are especially designed for handicapped visitor use, some are removeable, and others have fold-up armrests. There is even a “crying room” behind glass, for families with very small children who may not be comfortable in the dark.

GOTO opto-mechanical projector CHIRON III
CHIRON III is the result of GOTO INC’s push to evolve planetarium projector design ever-closer to reproducing a perfect night sky. Smaller and more energy efficient than previous CHIRON models, the CHIRON III is fully LED illuminated. It uses fiber optics to show the roughly 9,500 stars visible in a perfect night sky. About 300 of those stars show true color temperatures, and more than 300 nebulae and star clusters, and more than 2,000 dark nebulae (dust) clouds are also projected for sharp-eyed visitors or those bringing their binoculars to the planetarium.

The Milky Way is exquisitely subtle with over 100 million micro-stars which can show detail that only astronauts in space can usually see. One of CHIRON III’s totally unique features is the ability to not only twinkle the stars as much or as little as desired, but it can turn off dimmer stars in brightness groups to simulate light pollution or hazy skies as seen over a village, town or big city.

Fulldome 4K digital image system VIRTUARIUM X
The Fuchu City Local Forest Museum’s planetarium also has the latest in fulldome video projection technology. Using four of the latest Sony 4K laser phosphor video projectors, wide angle lenses custom-made by GOTO INC for this dome, and a rack of powerful image generating computers, the entire dome becomes a canvas for painting exciting, colorful, moving images. Much like large format movie theaters fill a big flat screen, the VIRTUARIUM X fulldome system plays not only pre-produced movies. But it can also generate its own images in real time. So the planetarium “pilot” can fly the audience anywhere in the Universe, almost like a video game simulation.

Besides astronomy subjects, the VIRTUARIUM X system can also come down to earth. The planetarium has fused the cityscape and landscape of Fuchu with the sky overhead so convincingly that audiences will feel the same connection between earth and sky when they walk out of the planetarium. The Hipparcos 120,000 star database is included in the VIRTUARIUM X computer database, allowing for flights well beyond the planets of our solar system. Other features are:

  • Unique stellar motion shown over ± 1,000,000 years time
  • Variable strength scintillation or twinkling
  • Representation of Mira type and Algol type variable stars
  • Prominent meteor showers
  • Milky Way as observed from earth in wavelengths invisible to the naked eye
  • Well-known nebulae and star clusters – all Messier objects
  • Display of constellation pictures, boundaries, lines, and labels for all 88 constellations
  • Coordinate lines such as Equator, Ecliptic, Azimuth, Meridian, Equatorial Grid…
  • Analog and digital clock displays
  • Reproduction of atmospheric conditions such as twilight, appearance of the blue sky
  • 3D model display of the main objects of our solar system
  • Major satellites of each planet
  • Approximately 600,000 object asteroid database
  • Orbital data of spacecraft such as ISS, Voyager, Pioneer, Hayabusa, etc.
  • 3D model display when approaching near fixed stars with exoplanets
  • Various data of distant galaxies using different catalogs
  • Various displays of Earth conditions (Science on a Sphere*)

*Science On a Sphere®
Science on a Sphere (SoS) is a globe display developed by the United States Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a tool to explain the natural systems of the earth. (Science on a Sphere® is a registered trademark of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.)

The VIRTUARIUM X system at the Fuchu City Local Forest Museum also contains various sets of scenery such as school yards around Fuchu and the landscapes of Fuchu as it would have been seen in the Edo period from atop today’s Fuchu City Hall. Since Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun, is said to have visited this area, the Museum’s connection between the past and present is complete, both within the museum’s permanent collections and inside the planetarium dome.

Other theater modifications
In addition to manufacturing and installing the planetarium’s projection equipment, GOTO also changed the dome screen, renovated the interior of the theater, and totally renewed the astronomical exhibition room outside the dome.

Inside the dome, the elevator pit used by the previous larger star projector was closed, and the floor was tilted slightly to allow for better sight lines to the large raised stage at the front of the dome. That stage will be used for lectures, concerts, and other performances and events under the stars.

The new seating design has a total of 218 seats. This includes 190 reclining seats with generous space for comfort, 4 special rotating seats, 10 seats which can be removed for wheelchair access, and 7 dual “family seats” with folding armrests. The general reclining seats are designed so that audiences can view the stars overhead with more comfort than ever before. And colorful LED lighting is arranged around the planetarium’s periphery as well as at various accent zones inside the dome.

The astronomical exhibition room outside the planetarium entrance is titled, “Fuchu Has Space!” The concept for this room includes items related to astronomy in Fuchu and its surrounding areas such as meteorites, description of an asteroid recently named for Fuchu, and even parts of the former Model GL-AT projector which was also made by GOTO INC in 1987 in their nearby factory – only about 500 meters away.

Fuchu City Local Forest Museum

The Fuchu City Local Forest Museum opened in April of 1987, and is now directed by Mr. Kazuyuki Ono. It is in part an open-air museum in Fuchu-shi Tokyo, where the whole forest including many historic buildings are united. A planetarium is inside the modern two-story main building which exhibits local materials and archeological artifacts. The 23 meter planetarium dome is one of the largest of the horizontal type in eastern Japan.

In the park surrounding the main building, preserved and restored building from Fuchu’s middle Edo period and into the early Showa era are displayed. Permanent exhibitions, restoration work, and guided museum commentary tours are offered. Also, various public events are held in and around the museum’s buildings. Perhaps the most popular event is around February, when many people gather to witness the plum blossoms which burst into beautiful displays. Starting in FY 2016, the Fuchu Culture Promotion Foundation and GOTO INC formed a joint enterprise body to manage the facility.
6-32 Minami-machi, Fuchu-shi, Tokyo 183-0026
Official Home Page  http://www.fuchu-cpf.or.jp/museum/


GOTO INC designs, manufactures, installs, and maintains large format image systems, astronomical telescopes, and in particular, fine opto-mechanical planetarium projectors for use around the world. Operating since 1926, the Goto family-owned business has delivered over 1,000 planetarium projectors. In addition to developing innovative equipment which leads the planetarium industry, GOTO also produces visual program content, maintains hundreds of planetariums annually, and manages the operations of multiple public planetariums.
4-16 Yazaki-cho, Fuchu-shi, Tokyo 183-8530
Official Home Page  http://www.goto.co.jp/english/

GOTO HYBRID Planetarium™

In 2004, GOTO INC developed and exhibited the world’s first GOTO HYBRID Planetarium™. This system combines and synchronizes the opto-mechanical star projectors of GOTO INC with all-sky, fulldome digital image systems which project various powerful images. Each of these two systems are linked by computer software that ensures that the both project the same coordinate space at all times. More than 50 GOTO HYBRID Planetariums™ are now in operation in Japan, Germany (the birthplace of the planetarium), the United States, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asian countries. GOTO INC produces its HYBRID systems in various sizes, with different projection systems suitable for domes from 8 to 50 meters in diameter.

GOTO HYBRID Planetarium™, VIRTUARIUM, and CHIRON are registered trademarks of GOTO INC of Japan.

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