State Of The Art Planetarium Opens At Birmingham's Thinktank

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 16 December 2005
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photo of an audience in a planetarium watching a presentation

The people of Birmingham will now be able to find out all about the universe from their very own digital planetarium. © Thinktank

Birmingham’s first Planetarium opened to the public on Saturday December 17 as the new centrepiece of a £2 million upgrade for the award-winning Thinktank science museum at Millennium Point.

With seating for up for up to 70 visitors per show, the new Planetarium boasts a projection dome measuring 10 metres in diameter and is the UK’s first digital planetarium.

“Our new Planetarium will bring a dramatic out-of-this-world experience to the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands,” said Dr Nick Winterbotham, Chief Executive of Millennium Point and Thinktank.

shows a photograph of swirling star nebulas against a purple sky

© Thinktank

Dr Winterbotham also explained how local people had effectively been waiting for this kind of initiative, “since the world’s first Planetarium opened in 1923, if not since the founding of the Lunar Society by the likes of Boulton and Watt more than 200 years ago.”

The Planetarium will offer visitors a vibrant daily programme of presenter-led star shows and entertaining presentations on astronomy and the life sciences. Staff are expecting the most popular show to be a daily live star show pointing out exactly what visitors can see in the sky that evening from their own back gardens.

“Today’s didgital planetariums are spectacular teaching environments, virtually limitless in their ability to present entertaining and educational content,” said Mario Di Maggio, Thinktank’s resident astronomer and Planetarium manager.

shows a satelite orbiting in space

© Thinktank

“We can not only project stars as seen from Earth’s surface,” he continued, “with their correct motion, viewed from anywhere on the planet, at any time in our past or future – but also stimulate travel to the stars, creating realistic 3D motion as one soars through the galaxy and beyond.”

Feature presentations will include Microcosm (a high-speed adventure into the human body) and Wonders of the Universe. Additionally, monthly lectures will be arranged featuring host speakers from local universities and societies, as well as guests from further afield.

The Planetarium is in Thinktank’s new look Futures Gallery, which already features state of the art interactive exhibits including ‘Create an Alien’ and ‘Mission to Mars.’ Forming part of the whole visitor experience at the museum, there will be an nominal extra charge of £1 per person.

shows a man looking upwards towards a suspended astronaut suit

© Thinktank

The museum expects demand to be high and is urging visitors to book the show of their choice in advance. (Box office: 0121 202 2222).

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