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Laser shows at Sharpe Planetarium



"It's really much, much more intricate than it was before," says Dave Maness of modern laser shows. Maness is Sharpe Planetarium Supervisor at the Pink Palace Museum and as such is in charge of the museum's laser shows.

This week, the planetarium will host its Fab Friday show featuring a Laser Tribute, Laser Genesis, and Laser Led Zeppelin.

"Back in the '70s and early '80s, they used a lot of incandescent effects and psychedelic-like liquid lights," he says. Since then, technology has advanced. The motors are faster, smaller, and lighter, and the laser power is greater, with sharper colors and more intricate designs.

Dark Side of the Planetarium
  • Dark Side of the Planetarium

Maness says back when he started at the Pink Palace in 2006, there was a large water-cooled laser. He was shown the Elvis laser show, and then that laser went kaput, never to laze again.

Laser shows are now computer programmed, though Maness notes there's always an operator there to give the show a little extra flash.

Along with the improvements in laser technology, the music has been upgraded as well, with shows dedicated to Beyonce and shows that include music from Miley Cyrus, John Legend, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, and the like. They still dust off the old Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, from time to time, of course. "Pink Floyd has to be involved," Maness says. "It's the quintessential group for lasers."

For Maness, laser shows are like a more intense fireworks display. "It's hard to put into words if you haven't seen it," he says.

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