Planetarium enters starry digital age

SPACED OUT: The new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome will offer perspective-3D edutainment and a unique experience unlike anything local audiences have ever encountered before. Picture: David Ritchie

Imagine travelling millions of light years away from earth. This is just one of the many things that can be experienced at the newly reopened Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome. And it’s a far cry from the old slide show technology.

The director of the planetarium, Theo Ferreira, said he was very excited about the reopening, with the first meetings to discuss the move to digital having taken place at the end of 2014. “We were using technology from the 1980s. We needed to get with the times and beef up the technology. We also wanted to create a facility that could do some research.”

He said the system was built with two computer clusters, one of them being for research. “Now, with what we’ve got, we can do different types of presentations. The whole dome becomes a screen and you get almost a 3D experience.”

Investments totalling R28.5 million were secured for this project, with partners including the Department of Arts and Culture; the Department of Science and Technology; the National Research Foundation; the National Lotteries Board; the University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

To promote the dome as an educational tool, said Mr Ferreira, there would be four school shows every day.

Rooksana Omar, CEO of the Iziko Museums, said the opening of the new digital dome was a momentous occasion for Iziko.

The doors of the new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome open to the public on Saturday May 27.