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Totally stellar! Yokohama planetarium eyes Guinness record with 1.2 billion stars

An array of stars to be projected at the planetarium. (Image courtesy of Ohira Tech Ltd.)

YOKOHAMA -- The planetarium at Hamagin Space Science Center here is preparing to set a new world record on Nov. 30 for the greatest number of stars to be projected at such a facility -- a staggering 1.2 billion.

    The planetarium in Yokohama's Isogo Ward will attempt to set the record with its new Megastar-IIA projector made by Yokohama planetarium designer Ohira Tech Ltd. based in Tsuzuki Ward. The optical projector will utilize a specialized star plate crafted with incredibly tiny holes -- made possible with the same technology used for Blu-ray discs, according to the manufacturer. This system will be able to bring out vivid details of the Milky Way galaxy that are normally indistinguishable to the naked eye.

    If all goes according to expectations, the previous record of 140 million stars, set in 2016 by the planetarium at the Yokkaichi Municipal Museum in central Japan's Mie Prefecture, will be toppled nearly tenfold. A Guinness World Records official will be present at the Yokohama science center ready to declare the new record on the spot.

    An illustration shows the planetarium's newly equipped Megastar-IIA projector. (Ohira Tech Ltd.)

    According to 47-year-old planetarium official Yasukazu Kohya, "The planetarium will now be able to reproduce images of stars that are barely even visible by space telescopes, lending a new level of realism to the experience." Kohya enthusiastically stated that he hopes the new world record will bring in visitors.

    The planetarium was built in 1984. Due to the age of its previous projector, it has been undergoing renovations since October. A reopening is scheduled for Dec. 1.

    (Japanese original by Nao Ikeda, Yokohama Bureau)

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