DOME RIS­ING QUICKLY

Build­ing has be­gun for the de­vel­op­ment of the Cos­mos Cen­tre’s Plan­e­tar­ium

Western Times - - FRONT PAGE - Louise Shan­non

WITH 25,000 vis­i­tors a year – lo­cals, grey no­mads, tourists and fam­ily trav­ellers – al­ready mar­vel­ling at the splen­dour of the Charleville night sky, the uni­ver­sal love of stargaz­ing is be­ing re­flected in grow­ing num­bers to the re­gion and has now prompted an ex­pan­sion of the Cos­mos Cen­tre.

Build­ing has be­gun for the de­vel­op­ment of the Cen­tre’s Plan­e­tar­ium, due to open next Easter and set to cater to the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the Out­back re­gion.

Mur­weh Shire tourism man­ager Monique John­son said the slab had been poured and next week the wall (to which the plan­e­tar­ium dome would to be at­tached) would be built.

“The dome should be erected by the end of Novem­ber, then we’ll put in the pro­jec­tors and spe­cial seats and air-con­di­tion­ing.”

Ms John­son said the Cen­tre had been at­tract­ing fam­i­lies em­bark­ing on camp­ing hol­i­days to re­gional Queens­land in­clud­ing Charleville and its sur­round­ing shires and school tours, es­pe­cially from Bris­bane, the Gold Coast, Emer­ald, and Her­vey Bay.

She said the Plan­e­tar­ium, with seat­ing for about 50, would al­low stargaz­ers to en­joy the night sky even on cloudy nights when stars weren’t vis­i­ble, and would be used to show­case dif­fer­ent plan­e­tar­ium shows as well as to repli­cate the night sky above Charleville.

“The plan­e­tar­ium will be like look­ing at a clear night sky – it will be like look­ing at ex­actly like what they would have seen. You will be able to see the stars hail, rain or shine.”

She said the shows are yet to be de­cided, but will vary, and will hope­fully in­clude a film on the WW2 his­tory.

Ms John­son, whose per­sonal favourite con­stel­la­tion is the Milky Way, said it was easy to take the Out­back night sky for granted, how­ever tourists from cities and over­seas were amazed by the views, un­de­terred by light pol­lu­tion.

“Peo­ple con­nect to the uni­verse is so many dif­fer­ent ways. At the Cos­mos Cen­tre we try to come up with dif­fer­ent ways to en­sure all their guests con­nect to the heav­ens above.

“The plan­e­tar­ium is an­other medium to en­sure this con­nec­tions hap­pens. We hope that it will gen­er­ate peo­ple’s pas­sion to learn and un­der­stand more about where we fit into this vast and mag­nif­i­cent uni­verse.”

The new Plan­e­tar­ium will also fur­ther pro­mote growth for the re­gion, and will al­low vis­i­tor num­bers to the cen­tre to more than dou­ble.

“Ev­ery night that we can keep a vis­i­tor in town also helps a lot of lo­cals in jobs. Ex­tra time equals more dol­lars in ac­com­mo­da­tion and other lo­cal busi­ness sales.”

Ms John­son said the Plan­e­tar­ium would be both an ed­u­ca­tional and en­ter­tain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for peo­ple of all ages, gen­ders and races.

“No mat­ter what land you come from, lan­guage you speak or age you are, ev­ery­one will be able to take some­thing away from their ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Mur­weh Shire Coun­cil Mayor An­nie Lis­ton said she was “very ex­cited” about the new Plan­e­tar­ium as an added tourist at­trac­tion for the area and its abil­ity to be used even when the sky was over­cast.

“This is a pos­i­tive for Mur­weh. Peo­ple from the city don’t get to ex­pe­ri­ence the same thing be­cause of the high rise build­ings, so they love it. We get so many pos­i­tive com­ments about the wide open spa­ces.”

Cr Lis­ton said that per­son­ally she loved the “beau­ti­ful” clear, big skies which made her feel “re­laxed”.

❝be The dome should erected by the end of Novem­ber, then we’ll put in the pro­jec­tors and spe­cial seats and air-con­di­tion­ing.

— Tourism man­ager Monique John­son

SKYLIGHT: Things are hot­ting up at the new Plan­e­tar­ium site. The fab­u­lous cen­tre will com­pli­ment the Ob­ser­va­tory for those cloudy nights.

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