Cape Town’s much-loved Iziko Planetarium will undergo a thorough R27-million digital upgrade, culminating in a state-of-the-art digital full dome immersive theatre facility by early 2017.
A vital element of the upgrade is that researchers will be able to benefit greatly from the Iziko Planetarium. Students studying everything from astronomy and engineering to design, fine arts and archeology will have access to the infrastructure.
“By combining motion with three-dimensional (effectively simulating four-dimensional) [visuals], researchers can virtually ‘fly’ through multidimensional visualisations opening up a whole new avenue of exploration – from planetary and solar system science to geology, oceanography, climate and earth science, medical science, molecular- and biochemistry and even town planning,” said the Iziko Planetarium.
Professor Russ Taylor, the joint University of Cape Town, UWC, Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Research Chair, said he saw the digital upgrade as an opportunity for a new collaborative framework bringing together scientists, technologists and artists to help understand data.
The Iziko Planetarium will be closed during preparations for the upgrade. A digital projection system will replace the current projector, audio visual equipment and slide projectors, while the ‘star’ machine will be dismantled.
About 40 000 school learners visit the planetarium every year. The planetarium has held 45 000 shows and welcomed two-million visitors since it opened.