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27 May 2017
Iziko planetarium and digital dome ready to welcome visitors

Iziko planetarium and digital dome ready to welcome visitors

On 27 May 2017, Iziko Museums CEO Rooksana Omar opened the new and improved Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome  - a world-class digital full-dome theatre that allows for multimedia image production and data visualisation on a scale not previously seen in Africa.

The more than R30-million upgrade was made possible by including funders like the University of the Western Cape, the Department of Arts and Culture, the National Research Foundation, the University of Cape Town and Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Dr Michelle Cluver, Iziko Astronomer and associate professor at UWC, said she was honoured to be at the preview of the amazing facility.

“I am here in my capacity as an Associate Professor at the University of the Western Cape as part of our Inter-university Data intensive Astronomy (IDIA) initiative. In 1992 when I was in high school, I took up a job where I sold tickets outside this museum, and so being here today awakens something in me.”

She added that the world is entering a terrifying but also interesting era of big data. “This facility will make a difference and help us in being able to understand our data sets and also being able to discover things and make the most out of them.”

The Cape Town Planetarium is one of only six fully-fledged planetaria on the African continent, and the digital dome will continue a proud tradition of star-gazing at the 60-year-old institution‚ which is now among an elite group of planetaria with the new “8K” visual technology — with resolution about 24 times that of a normal high-definition screen.

Visitors to the upgraded facilities can expect more than just pretty pictures of the stars in the night sky. A virtual tour of the solar system and beyond will also be available, where visitors will be taken on a trip past the Hubble Telescope and can dive between Saturn’s rings and get to view the tiny particles that they’re made of - all in the comfort of a reclining chair available in the auditorium.

The theatre provides an immersive multi-sensory edutainment experience, and will assist in optimising South Africa’s research and data visualisation capacity.

Dr Bongani Ndhlovu, Executive Director: Core Functions at Iziko Museums, says the Planetarium will be used as a space for innovation, exploration and discovery, where art, science and entertainment meet - creating a new platform for research and artistic production, and enabling scientists “to communicate complicated content to the ordinary man”

Learners and educators from both primary and high schools will benefit from computer-generated imagery that makes interactive teaching and visual learning possible, and also provides an unparalleled and accelerated learning experience.

The digital dome will offer special discounts for students and those who are unable to pay the fees to access the theatre.