Planetarium to get new star show

Londoners will be able to journey through the universe with the aid of the world's most advanced star projector when it is installed in the London Planetarium. The acquisition of the Digistar Mark 2 projector is part of a planned pounds 4.5m redevelopment of the planetarium.

'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.

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    DT Teacher - Textiles

    £100 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We urgently require a DT t...

    Year 1 Teacher for long term roles starting in September

    £110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

    Year 6 Teachers needed for long term and day to day roles

    £110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

    Year 5 Teachers needed for various roles across Berkshire

    £110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week