If you have a passion for achieving a particular goal, then you may be able to understand the passion of Frank Kovac, who fell in love with the sky at the age of 13, to the extent that he built the largest, rolling, mechanical, globe planetarium of the world in his backyard.
Frank Kovac was a high school graduate from Wisconsin who wanted to be an astrophysicist. Unfortunately, he had to give up on his college degree, but he held on to his dream of the Planetarium. His friends found the idea so absurd that they started calling it a ‘Sanitarium.’
A planetarium is a dome-shaped theater, built to observe the night sky, both for education and entertainment. The planetarium simulates the motion of the stars in the sky by creating hyper-realistic scenes. The complex technologies used for the display include ‘star balls’ which requires precision engineering as, electromechanical, optical and laser systems are combined to create full dome projector systems that give off a super realistic view of the night sky.
The project of building this planetarium required both astrophysical and mathematical knowledge along with excellent engineering skills. The lack of university education could not hold him back from pursuing his dream. He built the Kovac Planetarium over the course of ten years. The planetarium weighs around 4000 pounds, and the complete project costs about $180,000. Explaining the structure, Kovac said,
“The globe is mostly sheets of plywood, some panel board. The motor drive is a half horsepower gear motor. The globe itself is mechanically operated it actually revolves around the audience and it is one of two others in the world and it is the largest.”
The knowledge of Maths and Engineering is not sufficient to construct the planetarium. In fact, the project is as much the work of art as that of science. He built a 2-ton globe with a diameter of 22 feet. The globe was tipped at 45 degrees based on the latitude of Wisconsin. Each one of over 5000 stars was carefully painted by hand with a focus on their brightness and exact position.
The following statement shows how he mentions the meticulous process of his artwork:
“I was able to plot each star with glow in the dark paint. I painted all 5,000 stars by hand with a tiny paintbrush one dot at a time which took about five months if you average eight hours a day. It was really painstaking on my neck, my back, spent many hours upon the ladder and I would even actually go outside on the clear nights to compare how mine looked in here and if I wasn’t happy with it, I would get out the paint and put more paint on a certain star.”
The guy had also built a telescope when he was only 16. Using plywood for the support base and a tube that is used for making concrete; the telescope was powerful enough to show the gap in rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter. However, he prides himself the most for his work on planetarium.
The project is a symbol of hard work and passion. The marvel gives out a message that a person can achieve any goal through persistence and diligence.
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