Queen Rocks the Dome

By Victoria Remley

Rock the Dome Weekend featured a new show that focused on Queen classics ranging from “We Will Rock You,” to “We Are the Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Another One Bites the Dust,” playing in the dome.

Seven new shows were featured on Jan. 25 and 26 that included The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rush along with Queen. Also on the schedule was “Awesome Mix,” which included songs from Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and “Off the Chain 90s Mix,” which included songs by Smash Mouth, the Backstreet Boys and other bands from that decade.

Curtis Spivey, the Ward Beecher Planetarium engineer; Tiffany Wolbrecht, the planetarium lecturer; and Patrick Durrell, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy, created the Rock the Dome shows together.

“We knew what was popular from the laser shows,” Spivey said. “That was The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Floyd. We knew we had to bring those back. We had done a classic rock show before, and we wanted something like that.”

Spivey created the Awesome Mix, while Durrell created the Rush mix show and Wolbrecht created the 90’s Mix show. They chose their favorite music genre and created a mix of songs from it.

The shows were presented to discover which ones customers enjoyed. They will bring the popular shows back the next time they hold a Rock the Dome Weekend, and Spivey said they want people to keep coming back.

“We love turning people on to astronomy and science, so Rock the Dome shows are just a way to get people in,” Spivey said.

The astronomy department at YSU buys shows from other planetariums and planetarium show distributors. This year, they bought “Undiscovered Worlds,” “Moon’s Worlds of Mystery” and “First and Furthest.”

There is a lot of work that goes into putting a planetarium show together. First, a planetarium engineer runs a sequence and syncs the sequence to a soundtrack. A slicer then divides the sequence into four sections to form a picture on the planetarium dome.

The engineer renders those sections out, which takes an hour per minute to render a planetarium show to get it ready for the system.

“For example, ‘Undiscovered Worlds’ is a 26-minute show,” Spivey said. “It took us 26 hours from the time I put it in the system to the time it was sliced up and ready to go up on the dome. But the results are terrific.”

“Undiscovered Worlds,” coming to Ward Beecher Planetarium in February, will look at exoplanets. After every show, a live look at the nighttime sky is performed with the planetarium star projector.