Hibbing Planetarium Undergoes Major Renovation | Focus on the hometown


HIBBING – Northeast Minnesota’s largest planetarium, the Paulucci Space Theater, recently received digital and tech upgrades. The facility is located next to Hibbing Community College (HCC) and is one of more than a dozen planetariums in Minnesota. The Paulucci Dome has a unique slant and is 40 feet in diameter, making it the second largest dome in the state. The only larger dome is located in the capital Saint-Paul. Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation supported the project with a $ 20,000 culture and tourism grant. The total project investment was $ 100,000.

Upgrades included a new 4K all-sky digital projection system that replaced older slide and film projectors. The new system and software have the ability to present a wide variety of full dome shows, as well as project flat dome images such as PowerPoint, DVDs, and Blu-rays.

A new LED star light has been added to the existing Spitz Staff Star spotlight. which projects the current night sky. A new sound system was installed and new cove lighting was added around the inner edge of the dome. The hall has been redesigned with new paint, furniture and exhibition spaces.


The renovation was led by Kevin Milani, a chemistry professor at HCC who teaches an astronomy course. Milani has worked for HCC for 36 years and served as Deputy Director of the Planetarium for 11 of those years.

“The new equipment gives us access to a staggering amount of program content and shows,” said Milani. “Planetarium guests can take virtual trips across the cosmos and explore thousands of miles above Earth, our planetary system, the Milky Way, and black holes.”

The theater opened in 1980 as a state-of-the-art planetarium and has attracted thousands of visitors each year who have enjoyed multimedia shows, celebrity talks, and the same big-screen movies shown in Omnimax cinemas in across the country.

Over the past 20 years, the film has gradually disappeared and been replaced by digital equipment, rendering most of the capabilities of the Paulucci Space Theater obsolete. Milani used the 18-month-old COVID-19 shutdown to deep clean and clean up the facility to make room for the renovation and digital transition.

The theater reopened to the public last June and offers:

• All Sky Weekly Movies: rotating feature films such as Touch the sun and Cosmic castaways.

• School trips: Zone
schools can choose from
more than 20 shows adapted to
grades K-12. K-3 grades can
enjoy shows such as The
Little star that could. Junior
high school and high school students are suitable for Cosmic
Colors: an adventure along the water
spectrum Where Asteroid
Impact monitoring mission.
• Night observation with a telescope:
Range members
Creation of an astronomy club
telescopes in the theater
public parking
to see deep sky objects
and the moon, Jupiter and
• New visualization software:
OpenSpace can visualize and simulate a flight
anywhere in all
known universe. Stellarium
can display the current night
time sky from any place
on earth, draw constellations
and simulate astronomical phenomena such as
meteor showers or comets,
and solar or lunar eclipses.
The World Telescope has
similar capabilities to Open-
Space and Stellarium and is
developed by the Americans
Astronomical Society.
• Theater rental: rental of facilities for companies
meetings, birthdays,

groups, fundraising and family reunions.

“The financial support from our local community, former residents and foundations was incredible,” said Milani. “Many people shared fond memories of growing up and living in northeastern Minnesota and learning about the stars and constellations on their school trips to the planetarium.”

Funding partners included Gina Paulucci, the Dr. Ben Owens Foundation, the HCC Student Life Fund, the HCC Foundation, the Security State Bank Foundation and numerous donations from local businesses, organizations and individuals.

Learn more about the Paulucci Space Theater, show dates and times, as well as admission and rental fees at hibbing.edu/campus-services/ paulucci-space-theater.

Send an email to Danae Beaudette ([email protected] mn.us) for information on the Culture and Tourism grant or call 218-735-3022.

Source: The Ranger, a publication of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation.


Arline J. Mercier