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Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome

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Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome

The all new digital dome at the Iziko Museum boasts edu-tainment for the whole family

Housed inside the Iziko Museum, the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome on Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town has been upgraded to bring together professionals, students and families to connect on a digital spectrum.

The Iziko Museum in Cape Town is one of eleven Iziko museums in South Africa, which is one of Southern Africa’s oldest and largest museums and this particular digital space is one of the most advanced digitally equipped planetaria on the African continent. With an 8k digital projection facility, 67.1 megapixels of projection, graphical processing units and computer clusters, the technologically driven hotspot has offered a breath of new life into the world of planetaria.

The technology at the Iziko Planetarium has become increasingly outdated, even though the facility has received more than 2.5 million visitors over the years, Iziko management has combined forces with academics, researchers, astronomers and individuals from the humanities departments across various institutions to assist in generating new knowledge with upgraded and innovative technology to make this knowledge widely accessible through visualising research data sets all the way through from biology to astronomy and the creative arts.

This new dome theatre provides edu-tainment, and virtual travel to explore the universe, the oceans and their depths, the inner working of the human body, the intricacies of atomic and chemical structures, or simply put, providing animation and a 360° cinematic experience for entertainment.

Entering the Iziko Planetarium, the space seems pretty ordinary until visitors take their seats. The unexpected reclining seats make for a comfortable VIP-resembling experience, as visitors are immediately transported to a world with first-hand viewing of worlds far beyond our expectations. As the show begins and visitors had a taste of what can be expected at the new and improved Iziko Planetarium, Martin Radcliffe from SKA (Square Kilometre Arrays) spoke us through the journey which we were about to embark on. We started off at Earth, which is what would ordinarily happen at the traditional planetarium, but this fully fledged digital dome offers so much more than an Earth-centred view. As we continue, our view is shifted to out of space, as we take off from Earth, which is something that could never be done at traditional planetaria. “Here, we have a 3D view of our place in space for the first time in a planetarium,” says Martin.

“The very latest technology has been installed in this facility, making it unique in Africa” says CEO of Iziko Museums, Roegshana Omar. “The facility is not a planetarium as you know it, but a digital dome that is a fully immersed theatre, capable of offering edu-tainment unlike any other.”

The Iziko Planetarium aims to encourage a wide range of interests, and the shows which will be screened at the Iziko Planetarium are not limited to astronomy, but also ranging from vistas of ocean depths to microcosms of atoms, from edu-tainment to sheer entertainment catering to adults, families and children. “Not only is the Iziko Planetarium an experience of our universe, and simply seeing our Earth, it is also an armchair travel from the furthest reaches of the universe,” explains Roegshana.

The digital space is an interactive visual learning experience, and a significant tool for scientific research, aiding scientists and academics to optimize South Africa’s e-research and data research capacity. “Some data you can only understand if you can see it, and if you see it big,” says Professor Dani Visser, patron of Iziko Planetarium and former deputy Vice Chancellor of UCT. “In the same way a neuroscientist can understand data by looking into a brain and many other areas. Data and data visualisation is about astronomy but also going beyond astronomy.”

The end goal of this space is to encourage individuals and institutions across a broader spectrum to work together. “The digital dome will also be a space of innovation where art and science meet, not only for the scientists, but also for the local artist where artistic production, film, and animation are to be showcased for the world to see,” concludes Roegshana.

The Bill: Adults (19 years and older): R40 | Children, students and South African pensioners: R20 *Ticket prices will increase on 17 June 2017

25 Queen Victoria Street | Cape Town| +27 (0)21 481 3900

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By Marian Volkwyn

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