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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us