MP Birla Planetarium, one of the country’s oldest planetariums, is undergoing a thorough overhaul, with a view to woo the younger generation and train them through educational programmes.
The need to upgrade the planetarium was felt around a year ago after it was found that the equipments needed a thorough overhaul. The estimated cost is Rs 45 crore.
“We have been running the planetarium with the same machines for the last 52 years and those machines were working fine. But lately, we realised the need for renovation to attract more youth. We will need 5-6 more months to complete the project in hand. We have a budget of around Rs 45 crore,”said Debiprosad Duari, Director for Research and Academics at the planetarium.
Talking about some of the new equipments that would be installed, Duari said: “So far we had been using an optomechanical machine which could project the night sky as one would see through the naked eyes. Now, we have gone for the hybrid planetarium projection system [HPPS] which has a digital projection system in addition to the latest optomechanical machine. We have nine velvet projectors which can depict the night sky and different components of the cosmos from a very close viewpoint. The new software will allow the viewers to have a fly by through the solar system, stand on the rings of Saturn and will give them a very different experience.
“We will have an educational aspect to whatever will be shown. This hybrid system has been manufactured by the Carl Zeiss Company of Germany and it has been exclusively designed for Birla Planetarium according to the size of the dome i.e 23 m.”
“We had closed down to seven lakh visitors per year and are expecting a considerable increase in the number. The sitting capacity of the hall will be falling to 625 after the renovations,” Duari further said.
Initially, it was thought that a partial renovation would be enough, but the managing committee decided to go for a total renovation including the marbles, paints, public utility areas etc. An astro-corner will be set up in the front where telescopes, literatures, posters, pictures, etc would be displayed and sold.
Many young students coming from various disciplines are showing keen interest to watch the sky at night and need a good telescope for the purpose. They will get the telescopes which can be used regularly at an affordable price.
There will be a gallery which would display the astronomical events, objects and issues in the form of multimedia. “The shows that will be shown after renovation will be completely new to our country,” Duari maintained.