‘Silent’ stargaz­ing is out of this world

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE | TRAVEL - By LI JIAXU in Ping­tang county, Guizhou li­ji­axu@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Wel­come, earth­lings! To Guizhou prov­ince’s Ping­tang county, that is.

Ex­trater­res­tri­als greet visi­tors to the Ping­tang In­ter­na­tional Ex­pe­ri­ence Plan­e­tar­ium’s chil­dren’s hall. (Well, hu­mans in alien cos­tumes, more pre­cisely.)

Don’t worry. They come in peace.

The 5,000-square-me­ter plan­e­tar­ium is a place where visi­tors can don vir­tual-re­al­ity head­sets and sit in a space sim­u­la­tor to play an as­tro­naut.

There are dis­plays of so­matosen­sory tech­nol­ogy and pho­to­elec­tric ef­fects, and of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Earth and our moon. That’s not to men­tion in­ter­ac­tive mo­tion-sen­sory ex­hibits.

High-tech, in­deed, but mo­bile de­vices are banned from the area, which hosts the Five-hun­dred-me­ter Aper­ture Spher­i­cal-ra­dio Te­le­scope — the world’s largest.

It’s a chance to drop out of so­ci­ety’s earthly hul­la­bal­loo and tune in to the heaven’s sublime si­lence.

All mo­bile-com­mu­ni­ca­tions sta- tions within 5 kilo­me­ters of the FAST have been closed since Nov 1. Visi­tors must de­posit their de­vices in lock­ers be­fore en­ter­ing the “core zone”.

Tourism au­thor­i­ties are hail­ing this as a boon, rather than a bane.

“‘Silent tourism’ is a new con­cept Guizhou is pro­mot­ing,” says the Guizhou Tourism De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee’s deputy di­rec­tor, Wang Wenxue.

Visi­tors can es­cape the hustle and bustle of con­tem­po­rary life to en­gage eth­nic cul­ture and na­ture, he says.

“It blends ex­pe­ri­ences hu­man­ity and the heav­ens.”

The FAST’s gen­eral tech­nol­o­gist, Wang Qim­ing, says it’s a suc­cess­ful model of in­te­grat­ing as­tron­omy and tourism with the pro­tec­tion of sci­en­tific re­search.

Non-dig­i­tal cam­eras are per­mit­ted. And there are land­lines in case you re­ally need to give some­one a ring.

Oth­er­wise, you can fo­cus on the rings that hula-hoop the gas gi­ants that loop around our sun — with­out dis­trac­tion.

In­deed, vis­it­ing the area around FAST of­fers a chance to slow down and look up in silent won­der. of

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.