Michael Allen
Michael Allen

Allen embraces new technology to teach about the universe

When Michael Allen was 4 years old, his mother gave him a book about astronomy.

He still has it, and despite the book’s worn pages, it still holds a privileged place on his bookshelf.

Since receiving that book, he knew exactly what he wanted to do in life.

“I never wanted to be anything other than an astronomer,” he said.

Now, Allen, 45, is the co-director of the WSU Planetarium, a small room that allows students and the public to gaze at digital projections of the universe. The images are projected onto a 24-foot diameter, plastic-laminated glass-fiber dome.

At the center is a mechanical projector built in 1968, which will soon be replaced by a computerized LCD projector that uses a spherical mirror to display images. It can show what the sky looks like right now, as well as during each of the four seasons. It can also show planets and constellations, and the mythical creatures and heroes those constellations resembled to people of Roman, Chinese and Egyptian cultures.

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Moscow-Pullman Daily News
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