The Planetarium Experience
Planetarium technology has advanced beyond recognition in recent years. In the summer of 2019, The Planetarium underwent a full system upgrade by world-leading planetarium provider Evans and Sutherland and Skypoint Planetariums. The spectacular results include high definition visuals, deeper star fields and stunning contrast. Visitors can experience an incredible virtual tour of the universe in the immersive environment of the dome, with breath-taking 360° visuals.
Viewers are immersed in full-screen video using a state-of-the-art digital projection system and cinema-grade surround sound. Our new system uses five Laser-phosphor projectors arranged around the audience, hidden in the walls. Each one creates a different part of the image. The projections fade out at the edges to blend into the neighbouring sections, giving a seamless appearance. The projectors are regularly calibrated to ensure that brightness/contrast/colour are matching across the entire dome. If interested, you can clearly see one projector above and to the side of the planetarium entrance (the large black one).
In addition to playing 360° fulldome films, the Digistar 6TM software by Evans and Sutherland 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 from the night sky above Earth, the satellites orbiting us, other planets and even distant galaxies. The journey you take is completely in the hands of the presenter and the audience, making each show unique.
The new planetarium system also brings new capability regarding accessible content. It will allow us to develop shows for people with visual and hearing impairment, through personal audio experiences, subtitles and embedded British Sign Language interpretation.