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Posted on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

New name approved for Pioneer High School planetarium as district accepts $100,000 donation

By Danielle Arndt

The Pioneer High School planetarium will soon get a new name — and also will be able to keep its bragging rights as the oldest continually operating planetarium at any school or college in the western hemisphere.


New signage outside the Pioneer High School Argus IMRA Planetarium soon will accompany the new name.

Janet Miller | file photo

The district was on the brink of closing the planetarium due to a failing operating system and a large price tag on the necessary equipment improvements.

Then IMRA, a global company specializing in ultrafast fiber laser technology, stepped in to donate $100,000 to the district. The money will fund critical upgrades to both the computer system that operates the planetarium programs as well as the cove lighting that surrounds the planetarium dome.

Because of the donation, the planetarium now will be called the "Argus IMRA Planetarium."

The Ann Arbor Board of Education unanimously approved co-naming the facility Wednesday night. Spokeswoman Liz Margolis said the district intends to purchase the new operating system as soon as possible.

The district will replace its current Digistar 3 operating system with the new Digistar 5, which has the ability to be run from an iPad.

The IMRA funds will be divided into two installments of $50,000 this year and next year. Because the Digistar 5 system costs $65,000 and is needed immediately to keep the planetarium operational, the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation will supplement IMRA’s donation by awarding AAPS the additional $15,000 to cover the cost of the system.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Glad that they are keeping the Name "Argus" in the name. This company employed many of our parents for many years. Why do the school systems allow maintenance to go by the way side in many areas. THis is not the first time I have seen this problem nor the first school system to have this problem If they would just complete the necessare manitenance checks each year, would not have these large expenses. Someone is falling down on the job!!


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

This is marvelous -- thank you for the donation and keeping a very important learning tool available for the student.s These are the types of stories I like to read.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

I'm rather envious, we never had a planetarium in the district I went to school - but it certainly would have been terrific. AA Schools are very lucky to have such a facility, and anyone missing an opportunity to use it is foolish indeed.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 10:42 p.m.

Glad to hear this, really cool local resource for the students here. I can remember going back when I was in school.