Shows at planetarium to be more fascinating

Shows at planetarium to be more fascinating

The New Year has brought good news for students and science enthusiasts in the city. The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium will be reopening on January 17, almost nine months after it was closed for renovation.

With the planetarium adopting upgrade technology, a session in the sky theatre will allow you to pass through the rings of Saturn, glide along nebulae and explore the Milky Way galaxy.

The newly installed hybrid projector systems give viewers an immersive experience, director of the planetarium, Dr B S Shylaja, said. The technology used in the sky theatre has been upgraded for the first time in the last 27 years.

“Earlier, we were using an opto-mechanical projector. We tried to digitise it with add-on devices but the experience did not match up,” Dr Shylaja said. The Rs 12-crore makeover brought in equipment and expertise from Germany. The theatre will now have an opto-mechanical projector to recreate the sky, supported by six digital projectors which will create sharp and realistic images making the experience more immersive. Besides, the circular seating has been replaced by unidirectional seating to ensure better viewing and audio.

“Curiosity about space is increasing and in the years to come, man will land on Mars too. Children will be able to learn about these through planetarium shows which will be sharper and more detailed with the new technology,”  said Prof U R Rao, chairman of the governing council of Bangalore Association for Science Education (BASE), which is in charge of the planetarium.

The planetarium had a collection of 24 shows on various topics, produced in-house since its establishment in 1989. With the old technology, producing a show used to take up to one year.

“We had to manually synchronise the optomechanical lens and the digital equipment like projectors. With computerisation, such constraints are removed and creating a show will take lesser time,” Dr Shylaja said. Since the existing shows are not compatible with the upgraded technology, new shows have to be created. “We will make shows on new themes about extrasolar systems and new space missions to asteroids, comets, mission to Mars and so on. We will ensure that students and visitors get a variety of options for viewing,” Dr Shylaja said. The team is now learning to use the new software.

The renovated sky theatre of the planetarium will be inaugurated on January 17 by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah with a show on the solar system, in Kannada and English. The date for resuming public shows will be announced soon.

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