Transport to the universe
Unlike most events of this nature, you are encouraged to take as many photos with your phone as you please, but it is simply impossible to capture the magnitude on that tiny screen in your hand.
The high-definition images are screened above, behind, and all around you, accompanied by thundering sound at suitable moments; it feels like you are fully immersed in a bubble containing a world you can only imagine. From the first second, I was overcome with openmouthed delight and didn’t want it to end. And that was just the trailer before the main attraction.
“The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome – one of six fully fledged planetaria in Africa – uses advanced digital visualisation technology to provide multi-sensory edu- tainment experiences and assist in optimising South Africa’s e-Research and data visualisation capacity in a space of innovation, exploration and discovery, where art, science and entertainment meet.”
That’s the tech talk. Yes, you will learn a thing or two but you can just as easily lie back and simply be transported by the incredible visuals as they envelop you. There is still a human touch: Planetarium presenter Elsabe Uys was on hand to explain a few things along the way, and also gave a short explanation of the current night sky in Cape Town.
From this I know I will never fathom what those ancients saw when they cast their gaze upwards and decided a seemingly random group of stars looked like a centaur or a scorpion. In any event, with all the light pollution in the city, it’s the only way to get to know what is up there, unless you want to trek to Sutherland.
While the current shows are space-related, Uys told me other topics will be covered, including biology, botany, and medical films.
Have a look at the website for the times and age suitability for current shows, which include Tycho To The Moon, To Space and Back, and Asteroid: Mission Extreme, which is the one I watched. It explores how asteroids are a danger (with the possibility of a cataclysmic collision with Earth) and an opportunity (stepping stones to other worlds as way stations in space) for humankind.
Iziko Planetarium is at 25 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town. Call 021 481 3900 or go to www.iziko. org.za/museums/planetarium
The Planetarium at Iziko South African National Museum has launched its new digital dome.