Planetarium to get new star show
Thursday 21 July 1994
'The new projector has 3-D quality and the computer graphics let you fly through the night sky,' said Undine Concannon, the planetarium's administrator.
'It changes the way stars look depending on where you are in space. It will take you to a star 200 or 300 light years away.'
The Digistar Mark 2, which costs about pounds 500,000, was first developed as a database of stars for Nasa. Using computer graphics to project the night sky, it will replace the planetarium's Zeiss Star projector which has been in operation for 36 years.
The acquisition is expected to mark a return to the popular space-based shows that the planetarium recently abandoned in favour of a show about the Earth.
The current show, which focuses on environmental damage and the population explosion, has not proved as popular with visitors as features on the universe. 'People come to the planetarium to see the stars,' said a staff member.
'This is a bit of a Greenpeace show. People who come regularly say it isn't as good as others we've done.'
An elaborate laser and rock music show, which was abandoned more than three years ago because of declining audiences, is also likely to remain off the menu, but the Space Trail - a hands-on display with computers and scale models of the planets - is expected to stay and may be expanded.
The complete redevelopment will begin on 31 October when the planetarium will close for six months. It is the first major refurbishment since the planetarium opened in 1958.
The redevelopment follows a five-year, pounds 21m refurbishment of Madame Tussaud's waxworks, the planetarium's sister company, which is also owned by Pearson plc, the media and entertainment group.
'It is a giant leap for the planetarium. It is going to be a complete transformation,' said Juliet Simpkins, a spokeswoman.
The planetarium, which runs 13 shows a day, hopes that the redevelopment will attract a wider audience.
Many of the 650,000 annual visitors are children with a basic understanding of astronomy. Staff hope that the new projector, which gives a virtual reality effect, will bring in an assortment of astronomy buffs and thrill-seekers.
The planetarium is also aiming to become a popular venue for classical concerts and plays. It is building a stage in the auditorium and is redesigning the seating, which is now cirular, so it faces the stage.
A larger entrance, where displays and exhibitions can be staged, is also being designed by architects Fletcher Priest.
To attract more foreign tourists, simultaneous translation into German, French, Spanish and Italian will be installed, along with wheelchair access and facilities for the hard of hearing.
As for the planetarium's Zeiss Star projector - which two years ago narrowly survived an IRA fire-bomb - it will be going into retirement as an exhibit after almost 40 years of service.
Life & Style blogs
Caitlyn Jenner: Twitter bot created to remind social media users to use the right pronouns
Charlie Charlie Challenge: everyone on the internet thinks it’s a marketing stunt, but it probably isn’t
Not brushing your teeth can lead to dementia and heart disease
Insomnia could be cured with one simple therapy session, new study claims
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
- 1 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
- 5 We have six months to save the world, says leading economist
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...
£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...