Trans­port to the uni­verse

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

show begins.

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

PIC­TURE: SUP­PLIED

The Plan­e­tar­ium at Iziko South African Na­tional Mu­seum has launched its new dig­i­tal dome.

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