Frank Kovac (FK)
FK: My name is Frank Kovac, and I built my own planetarium in my backyard.
As a child, my dad had a small telescope, and I asked him if we could take it outside and look at the sky. And he said, ”Sure, we’ll go look at the moon.” From that day forward I wanted to be an astrophysicist, but I was always terrible at math, so I worked as a store room department clerk at the local paper mill.
And then in the year 1995, I did a presentation at a local town hall. A group of Boy Scouts wanted to come out and look through the telescopes that I have. It turned out to be a cloudy night, and I thought I’m going to fix that. I’m going to build a planetarium so we can never cloud out the stars.
My neighbors, they were asking me, ”How are you going to do it without any knowledge of engineering?” And I says, ”Well I just have an idea. In my mind I can envision this before I even built it.”
My planetarium is about 22 feet in diameter. The globe itself weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. And when I turn on the motor, it rotates around the audience replicating the night’s sky.
Every single star is painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. About 5,000 dots. One dot at a time. And it took me about five months to get every single constellation you see in the Northern Hemisphere.
My first show I had just two people come. And I was a little nervous because I was a very shy person. I did terrible. I stuttered too much. But nobody complained and now I never tire of giving a show. I almost feel like it’s always my first one.
My dad past away about the year I started to build the planetarium. There were days I kind of wondered if I was even going to make this thing work. And you wonder why am I doing this? And I felt that my dad was there watching over me. You know, I don’t think I have the knowledge to build a planetarium, and here it is. The dream come true.