Welcome to the Airbus Defence and Space Planetarium Cinema in Winchester
"The planetarium show is amazing; I would say life-changing for some people... " (Tripadvisor comment)
The planetarium cinema presents an unforgettable and incredible experience. Imagine lying back in a comfortable seat with a cinema screen 360o around and above your head. The enormous domed screen completely surrounds the audience, placing everyone right in the action. Relax back into a comfortable 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.
There are two main formats offered in the planetarium cinema:
Fulldome cinema films are high-quality digital pre-recorded films, usually created by animation processes due to the challenges of working with live action in this huge and complex format. Some of these have production costs running into the millions of pounds. A wide variety of topics are offered, from going inside the human body to blasting off to space. Most films are 20-45 minutes long.
Live, presenter-led shows are where a presenter takes you on a personal tour of space by navigating through an accurate three-dimensional model virtual model of the known Universe, again in a 360o format. In effect, the planetarium is used as a flight simulator. Topics range from tours of the night sky as seen from Earth to trips through the Solar System or even out to the edge of the visible Universe.
Winchester Science Centre would like to thank SEEDA for funding the installation of this world-class facility and Airbus Defence and Space for generous sponsorship supporting its ongoing use.
Public planetarium cinema shows nearly every day of the year.
Shows may be pre-recorded 360o fulldome films, or live, presenter-led shows. A variety of styles and topics are available. See full listing here.
Chatterbox shows are special showings where visitors may chat or call out. Perfect for younger children or for those with special needs who naturally vocalise their interest. Please note that in other shows, visitors are asked to listen quietly and that anyone disrupting the show for others may be asked to leave.
Showings are normally advertised at least two weeks ahead, but special showings may be advertised in advance of this.
Normally there are two public shows each school-day afternoon, and showings every hour during weekends and holidays. Some school days have no public shows due to private bookings.
Confirm availability on the What's on guide or call 01962 863791.
The schedule is not confirmed further in advance to allow flexibility for groups and schools to request shows to suit their timetables.
Special events: may include theatre, storytelling, poetry and live music events, as well as premieres of new planetarium shows. Such events are advertised in the What's on guide when confirmed.
Prices & booking
The planetarium cinema is charged separately rather than being bundled into the cost of every Science Centre ticket. This allows visitors the choice of whether to pay for this. A cheaper ticket rate is available for those also visiting the Hands-on Exhibition.
Shows are charged depending on which of the following categories they fall into:
Standard shows - films up to 35min
Premium shows - extended films / live shows up to 35min
Special shows - extended live shows (including Saturday Night LIVE).
Prices for special events such as After Dark are as advertised in the event information.
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 cinema 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 relies on a bank of seven computers running six projectors arranged around the audience, hidden in the walls. There is no central projector to disrupt your view. You can see one projector clearly at the back above the control 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 regularly calibrated to ensure brightness/contrast/colour matching across the entire dome.
In addition to playing 360o fulldome films, the UniViewTM software by SCISS allows presenters to fly visitors through a virtual universe built using scientific data. Each star and galaxy is accurately plotted and planets are created using 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.
Scheduling - looking ahead
If you would like to know the schedule beyond the period currently advertised, here is some general advice:
Hampshire school days
The planetarium cinema is usually busy with school groups until after lunch.
There is usually one public show at 2.30pm and another at 3.30pm.
Rarely, a school day will have no scheduled shows. 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 a variety of ages.
Showtimes are usually 10.40am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm and 4.30pm. These times may be adjusted to allow for additional shows in busy holiday periods and/or additional shows may be scheduled on days with extended opening hours, so always check the schedule before travelling.
Occasionally, some showings may be replaced with other, special events.
Saturday Night LIVE extended, presenter-led shows (1 hour including Q&A) are presented on two Saturday evenings each month. A 360o fulldome planetarium cinema film is screened between the two showings.
Children under 14yrs
Must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Children under 4yrs
The planetarium cinema is not recommended for very young children due to darkness and powerful images/sounds. The experience can be rather overwhelming for some, or for others so exciting that they cannot help but call out! Why not bring younger children to Chatterbox shows, where chatting and calling out is allowed. For other shows, please be aware that children will be asked to leave if they make noise or are unable to remain seated. Some shows, especially those with a live presenter, have a minimum age of 4yrs.
Children under 3yrs
Free entry if you are happy for them to sit on your lap. However, please think carefully 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!
Large screen projections can give the sensation of movement, which may be uncomfortable for people with balance disorders, including those who suffer from extreme motion sickness.
There are six spaces for wheelchair users in the back row, offering an excellent view of the dome screen.
Seats adjacent to these spaces are available for carers, friends or family, or anyone else preferring to avoid the steps.
Those with children sleeping in prams/pushchairs can sit next to them using these same spaces.
Additional space is available at the back of the dome for storage of pushchairs, wheelchairs or other large items during the show.
Winchester Science Centre is busy planning more events to cater for different audiences in the planetarium cinema. Please sign up for the newsletter to receive the most up-to-date information.
The Airbus Defense and Space Planetarium is a fantastic resource for all of Hampshire and, as an immersive environment, has been used for music, theatre and many other events. It is also used as an auditorium for science shows and corporate events, for which the seats can be adjusted to sit upright.