Frank Kovac built the Noah's Ark of astronomy geekery: A working planetarium in his backyard.
Kovac has been recognized for his achievement before in various articles, and was recently profiled in a video documentary from Coolest Thing. As he explains in the interview, Kovac used to make his living at a paper mill, and had dreams of becoming a planetarium director. "But I am very weak at math, and you need a lot of math and science in order to get that degree," he says. Major same.
'Screw the system,' he thought, 'I'll build my own planetarium and spend over a decade and $180,000 doing it.' It weighs two tons, and needed a custom foundation and housing structure built around it.
The globe is made of plywood sheets and panel board, with five thousand hand-painted glow-in-the-dark stars inside. He gives tours year-round for up to 25 people per show, with up to 4,000 people visiting a year. The show even includes Kovac's version of the Northern Lights: a penlight shone through a green-tinted water bottle.
This massive labor of love is inspired by, and named after, his father Frank Kovac Sr., who spent nights with his son staring up at the stars. If you're ever in northern Wisconsin, stop on by for a tour.
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