Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome gets a revamp

Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome gets a revamp

The long awaited launch of the revamped Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome will finally open the doors of this unique new facility to the public on May 27.

The new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome will offer perspective-3D edu-tainment and a unique experience “unlike anything local audiences have ever encountered before.”

Investments totalling R28,5 million have been secured to ensure the realisation of this project.

In the late 1950s the Museum set up a fledgling planetarium, and by the mid-80s, a newly built dome with a dedicated star machine followed, providing edu-tainment to over 2 million visitors to date. The new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome now stands on the threshold of an exciting new era. Fulldome digital technology has become the norm for planetaria worldwide, offering high res, multi-media image projection. Immersive and multi-sensory experiences create a hub of creativity and learning that is no longer only focussed on astronomy, but on an unlimited array of subjects and genre, with content for audiences of all ages and interests.

The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome brings the most advanced digital visualisation technology to Cape Town, “creating a world-class digital fulldome theatre, with multiple functionality.” This new fulldome theatre will provide unequalled edu-tainment, making virtual travel to explore the universe, the depths of the oceans, the inner working of the human body, the intricacies of atomic and chemical structures possible, or just providing animation and 360° cinema for sheer entertainment. Moreover, learners and educators from primary to tertiary levels will benefit from computer generated imagery that makes interactive teaching and visual learning possible.

Significantly, the upgraded Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome will assist to optimise South Africa’s eResearch and data visualisation capacity, “placing the country at the cutting edge of this technology, both on the continent and globally.” In addition, this new facility will assist South African scientists to develop the skills base and infrastructure required for projects such as Square Kilometre Array (SKA), Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) and MeerKAT radio telescope.

The upgrade of the Iziko planetarium forms an important adjunct to the roll out of a major Capital Works Project currently underway at the Iziko South African Museum. More than R220 million is being invested by the DAC to renovate the existing four-storey research space into a seven-storey, contemporary facility that will be partially accessible to the public, so that they can interact with the quintessence of this museum – research.

In his endorsement of this project, world renowned astrophysicist, author and science communicator, Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson noted: “No longer is the visitor limited to what the universe looks like from Earth. Vistas from across the galaxy and the universe itself are now possible. A digital planetarium further enables the wonders of the natural world to touch our lives in unexpected ways. Whether we gain perspective of our place in the world experiencing the diversity of pan-African culture, its folklore, and its art, writ large in the night sky; or by witnessing the forces of nature and how climate-change affects our planet; or by exploring the infinite universe – we are not the same walking out of the dome as when we walked in.

* Tickets for the re-opening of the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome can be purchased at the door and members of the public are encouraged to arrive early on opening day to secure a seat. Seating for each show is limited to 140 visitors.