Arlington, VA

(Updated at 2:00 p.m) Following a year of renovations, the David M. Brown Planetarium (1426 N. Quincy Street) is preparing to unveil its upgrades during a grand re-opening celebration weekend.

Events will take place throughout the weekend of September 28-30, beginning with a ribbon cutting on Friday (September 28) at 10:00 a.m. A “Family Day” begins at 12:30 p.m. that Saturday. Although people of all ages are welcome to attend, there will be many things aimed at children ages 3-12, including hands-on activities, art and games. Festivities will end with the Sunday Science Program at 1:00 p.m. on September 30, featuring a short talk and a activities like making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Tours of the facility will be available both days.

Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium, the non-profit group founded more than two years ago to launch the fundraising campaign that saved the facility, is co-hosting the events with Arlington Public Schools.

In 2010, in response to an outcry against a plan to shutter the planetarium and use it for classroom space, APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy proposed the challenge of a private group coming up with $402,800 for necessary renovations. That goal was achieved by the Friends just before the deadline last summer, thanks to a flood of last minute donations.

“When the school administration realized that there was tremendous support for the planetarium, they pitched in too,” said Dr. Alice Monet with Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium. “It’s a real joint effort.”

The facility upgrades include a new Spitz SciDome HD projector, a new interior dome, new seats, new floors and new restrooms. Some donators also purchased dedicated nameplates that have been affixed to certain seats.

Construction is still ongoing, but we’re told crews are “working like mad” to ready the facility for the grand re-opening.

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