Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University opens first, only planetarium in northern Arizona

Posted at 4:36 AM, Oct 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-05 11:33:13-04

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is opening the first and only planetarium in Northern Arizona.

On Friday, the university will hold a grand opening for the Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education Center. 

The planetarium seats up to 125 and will take people into the furthest parts of the universe in full 360-degree high definition. 

University Spokesman Jason Kadah says it will be the only planetarium north of Phoenix. 

"The Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium will delight students and residents alike with a variety of presentations," said Chancellor Dr. Frank Ayers. "It is much more than a planetarium, containing multimedia learning software that can display full-dome planetarium features that explore the planets and look into the complexity of the human body or modern spacecraft design. We will be learning about all of its capabilities this year and it will soon be open to the public." 

The STEM Center contains more than 20 industry-grade laboratories and supports degrees in astronomy, forensic biology, space physics, wildlife science, and Simulation Science, Gaming and Animation.

The STEM Center will be a resource for local middle and high schools, as well as an epicenter for community engagement events year-round, according to Kadah. 

Embry-Riddle has been a big part of the Prescott community since 1978, according to Kadah. In 2012, the aviation university announced it was expanding its vision to include a new, state-of-the-art STEM-based learning center. 

"As a native Prescottonian and Embry-Riddle employee of 19 years, the opportunity to further the connection between the university and Prescott is very exciting," said Andy Fraher, Director of STEM Outreach. 

"To have Embry-Riddle's world-class academic program here in Prescott is amazing- add to that the social, cultural, and athletic events, along with events planned for the Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium for the public, this facility will undoubtedly deepen the bond between Embry-Riddle and Prescott."