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Takayuki Ohira was born in Kawasaki near Tokyo in 1970. As a boy, in addition to having a keen interest in the world around him (growing plants, collecting minerals, etc.), he also made cartoon animations, developed his own photographs, and even began to make rockets! Questions to his parents were endless.
Ohira is the inventor of the MEGASTAR, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most advanced planetarium projector. Ohira completed his first planetarium when he was 10 years old - a primitive machine with tiny holes burned into sheets of paper, and illuminated by ordinary light bulbs.
At university, Ohira created a planetarium lens projector, despite being thought by many beyond the capability of any amateur. One of his neighbors, an engineer at Canon, helped him design software to interpret the star data he bought on two floppy disks from the United States. He mapped the latitudes and longitudes on paper, divided the sky into 32 segments, perforated those images onto sheet metal, and projected the resulting image via multiple lenses.
After graduation, Ohira began working as an engineer at Sony. He used most of his salary to fund his planetarium project. Living frugally at his parents' house, he set aside $50,000 (more than half his salary over that period). The next two years of weekends, evenings and vacations were taken up with Okira solely absorbed in his desire to develop his astrological vision.
Ohira's obsession with accuracy typifies that highly-regarded Japanese trait of perfectionism. Case in point: the naked eye can discern about 10,000 stars in a typically clear night sky. Ohira's revolutionary Megastar displayed 1.7 million dots of light - far greater than the 10,000 or so that even the best planetariums projected at the time. While most stars from his machine are indiscernible as individual points of light, projected together, they make up the milky backdrop for which our galaxy is named.
In 1998, using the last of his savings for a return flight to London and sweet-talking airline staff into allowing him to take the 27kg Megastar on-board as hand-luggage, Ohira showcased his creation at the biannual International Planetarium Society conference. Observers were astonished at the intricacy and quality of his work.
Returning to Tokyo, Ohira continued work on his follow-up model, the improved Megastar 2 - a smaller machine of even greater detail, able to project some 5 million stars. Five years later he quit Sony, rented an office and hired an associate to handle PR for his new planetarium product manufacturing company. From that point things really skyrocketed!
In collaboration with Sega Toys, Ohira produced the world's first optical portable planetarium for home use. Aptly named the HOMESTAR, it was a desktop-sized optical lens planetarium capable of displaying 10,000 stars. A floating version for use in a bath quickly followed. In 2007, Sega introduced the more advanced HOMESTAR Pro, boasting 60,000 stars. This was followed in 2008 by the most advanced home planetarium yet - the HOMESTAR EXTRA - with a luminance 15x that of the original and an astonishing 120,000-star display capability.
For Takayuki Ohira, the sky really does appear to have no limits!