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
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers
Airline food across the classes: Ever wondered what the other half are eating?
Coachella Festival 2015: from Kendall Jenner to Alexa Chung, stars and festival-goers parade their boho best
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
Huawei P8 review: best phones nobody's seen from the biggest company nobody's heard
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...