LA Valley College was established in 1949.
It occupies 105 acres in the Valley Glen district of Los Angeles, California in the east-central
San Fernando Valley. LA Valley College is one of 9 campuses that comprise the Los Angeles Community
College District (LACCD) serving over 13,000 students.
NASA awarded LA Valley College campus a three-year
$300,000 Curriculum Improvement Partnership Award (CIPA) to enhance earth sciences educational and
attract underrepresented, minority students into the program.
goals involve adding courses in astronomy and planetary science, and upgrading Valley's Planetarium
with a graphic digital visualization system called the Sci-Dome and required Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.
Planetarium Director, Professor David Falk said, "The previous planetarium dome was built in
1963, was only 24 feet in diameter with seating for 50. The upstairs observatory housed a 16 inch 'almost
research-quality' Celestron telescope." The renovation features a new elevator, NanoSeam
projection dome, 50 Mac lap-tops, Dolby 5.1 surround sound, and the 16 inch Celestron telescope and
control system retrofitted by DFM Engineering to enhance the students' learning experience.
Frank Melsheimer of DFM Engineering consulted with
Professor Falk on multiple issues: telescope use, access, visitor flow, optimal seeing conditions,
pier vibration isolation, wiring accommodations and dome automation.
performed the following tasks:
A new equatorial fork mount and stub axles were added to the existing Celestron tube assembly
to adapt it to the new mounting.
The Celestron steel pier was repainted.
DFM adapted the tube assembly to a new optical focuser, which allows users to focus with speed
The existing tube assembly was modified to accept an auxiliary telescope.
Mirror supports were reworked and counterweights were reinstalled.
DFM also provided handicapped access to the telescope eyepiece with the Articulated
The ARE-125 allows a person
seated in a wheel chair to simply pick up the eyepiece and bring it to their eye for convenient viewing
regardless of telescope position.
The new planetarium building, with the addition of the new elevator and retrofitted telescope now
brings LA Valley College up to ADA standards,
allowing wheelchair access so that disabled students may participate in the telescope experience
on the roof; a successful install!
Faulk, Director of LA Valley College Planetarium said, ". . . a magnificent, DFM retrofitted,
16 inch Celestron telescope resides on the roof of the planetarium building, so at the culmination
of a student's light-speed voyage through the digitally rendered cosmos, they can walk upstairs
for some bon-a-fide 'eye to glass' stellar experiences."