Welcome to the Astrium Planetarium
The Astrium Planetarium at Winchester Science Centre is the UK's largest capacity planetarium.
"The planetarium show is amazing; I would say life-changing for some people... " Tripadvisor comment
The enormous domed screen completely surrounds the audience, placing you right in the action. Relax back into a seat and get sucked into a black hole, fly through the solar system or even explore the human body. A fantastic shared experience that will have children reaching their hands up to touch the stars as they fly by.
Winchester Science Centre would like to thank SEEDA for funding the installation of this world-class facility and Astrium for generous sponsorship supporting its ongoing use.
Public planetarium shows run nearly every day of the year. These include pre-recorded 360o fulldome film shows and live, presenter-led shows on a variety of topics.
Evenings: see events calendar for full list. Includes showings during Saturday Night at the Planetarium, Stargazing Nights (usually Nov & Jan) and adults' After Dark evenings. There are also short shows after Space Lectures.
Prices & booking:
The planetarium is not included in the cost of your entry ticket. This allows visitors the choice of whether to pay to see a show. Prices below are per person, per show, for normal daytime showings.
Add-on tickets: if also buying a ticket to the Science Centre's hands-on exhibition, add a planetarium show for just +£2.20. Pre-book admission + planetarium online.
Special events may have different prices.
Tickets may also be pre-booked by calling 01962 891925 or in person.
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How does it work?
Planetarium technology has advanced beyond recognition in recent years. It is not just stars; now viewers can see full-screen video using a state-of-the-art digital projection system. The cinema-grade surround sound system adds to the feeling of total immersion. There is simply nothing like it.
Winchester Science Centre’s system, designed and installed by Global Immersion, relies on a bank of seven computers running six projectors arranged around the audience (hidden behind holes). There is no central projector to disrupt your view. You can see one projector clearly at the back above the desk (the large black one).
Each projector creates one part of the image. The projections fade out at the edges to blend into the neighbouring sections to give a 'seamless' appearance. The projectors are reguarly calibrated to ensure brightness/contrast/colour matching across the entire dome.
In addition to playing 360o fulldome films, UniViewTM software by SCISS allows presenters to fly visitors through a virtual universe based on actual scientific data. Each star and galaxy is accurately plotted and planets are 'wrapped' in real images from spacecraft wherever possible. Nothing is pre-recorded, everything is rendered in real-time, making each show unique.
The presenter can set time and date to show objects in the correct locations/orientations for the time of the show and then pilot a seamless flight from our Earth around the solar system and out to the edge of the visible universe, bringing in labels or markers as required, or speeding up or slowing down time to demonstrate the movement of objects.
Check out the show schedule for the short-term confirmed schedule. If planning further ahead, this is how the schedule is likely to look:
The planetarium is usually busy with school groups until lunchtime.
Later, there is usually one public show at 2:00pm/2:30pm and another at 3:30pm.
Rarely, a school day will have no scheduled shows. See the events calendar for known dates. These will be due to special/private events or to allow maintenance of the facility.
Shows run every weekend and school holiday except at Christmas (24-26 Dec) when Winchester Science Centre is closed.
There are usually at least four different shows on the schedule to suit all ages. Showtimes are usually 10:40am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm and 4:30pm. Additional shows are scheduled in busy holiday periods.
Occasionally, one or two showings may be replaced by other special events. These dates are advertised as early as possible in the events calendar. Extra shows may be added on days with extended opening hours.
Saturday Night LIVE special, presenter-led shows, run for an hour including Q&A. 360o fulldome planetarium films are run these same evenings.
Children under 14yrs: must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Children under 5yrs: The planetarium is not recommended for children under 5yrs due to darkness and powerful images/sounds. The experience can be rather overwhelming for some, or for others so exciting that the children can't help but call out! However, it can be difficult to split family groups so entry is not restricted. Be aware that you will be asked to leave if your child is disruptive. You might prefer to come to one of our Chatterbox showings where chatting and calling out is allowed.
Children under 3yrs: free entry if you are happy for them to sit on your lap. However, please think hard before bringing such young children in as they will need to sit still and quietly through the show which is clearly not natural behaviour for most toddlers!
There are six spaces for wheelchair users at the back with great views of the screen. Mobility scooters can be driven straight in through the main entrance. Adjacent seats are available for family and friends, or for anyone else preferring same-level access.
The seating is raked, with wide and broad steps down to the front. Seats at the back of the planetarium sit almost upright, while those at the front lean back. They all have head-rests and flip-up seats. Some seats (not level access) have space for a single leg to be extended at an angle, please let us know when booking if you would like us to reserve one of these for you.
Planetarium seats are 51cm wide, constricted to 46.5cm by the arm-rests. We can provide padded office chairs (40cm wide, no arm-rests) in the wheelchair spaces on request.
The planetarium has a hearing loop, requiring the T setting.
We regret written scripts cannot be provided for the shows as it would be too dark to read them inside the planetarium and torches would be very distracting for other audience members.
Subtitled/BSL shows available on demand to groups and schools:
- Astronaut can be screened with summarised subtitles projected over the show
- Flight Through the Universe can be run as an adapted version with subtitles and/or BSL
- We can also accomodate (or arrange) sign-language interpreters on request: please ask when booking.
Download this social story (.pdf) for autistic school visitors, which includes images of the exhibition and planetarium that may also be of interest to public visitors. You may also like to use our online planetarium tour to explore the space before your visit.
Epilepsy / other
The shows "Astronaut" and "We are Astronomers" have scenes containing flashing lights which may affect those with light-sensitive epilepsy.
If you have a balance/neurological condition (eg vertigo, MS), please be warned that motion on the giant screen may make you feel disorientated and uncomfortable.
If you would like to see the theatre space in advance to orient yourself or others then this can be done online in our planetarium tour.
If there's any other information you would like to see in this section, please let us know.
Winchester Science Centre are busy planning more events to cater for different audiences in the planetarium. Please sign up for the newsletter to receive the most up to date information by emailing Marketing Manager Andy Lane.
The Astrium Planetarium is a fantastic resource for all of Hampshire and, as an immersive environment, can be used for music, theatre and many other events. It will also continue to be used as an auditorium for science shows and corporate events, as the seats can be adjusted to sit upright.
If you are interested in being involved with the planetarium, for instance by volunteering to help at events, please contact Planetarium Manager Jenny Shipway