Everytime I browse the calendar on the McMaster Student Union website, I always come across events like Exoplanet, Hot Universe, Great Explosion… I know that they’re related to the astronomy, and I know that they’re held in the Planetarium in BSB, but I actually have no clue what a Planetarium is.
After actually going to a planetarium (in another city though), I was very impressed and overwhelmed. I initially thought that it was going to look like a science centre where they have exhibitions about space and cool models of space suits or samples of space food. Instead, I lined up to enter a dome-shaped auditorium with seats all around. In the centre, there’s a ”Zeiss Projector” that looked like a huge telescope to me. It is this technology that allows the presentation of astronomological shows on the ceilings of the dome. It’s sort of like a movie but it’s above your head and is interactive with the presenter.
A presentation on the constellation might look like this:
It is difficult to describe with pictures/words as it is the ambience that blows people away. My show was about Saturns. We started off with the latest astro-news: the latest discovery of new stars. Then we learned about the rings of Saturns and discussed the possibility of life on that planet. Lastly, we briefly glanced over the constellations…now I know how to find my way through the Big Dipper and the Northern Star!
By the way, the dome never opens up. According to the McMaster’s Planetarium website,
“A planetarium shows images of the stars, planets, moon and other objects in the sky. Our dome does not open. If it did tables and chairs from the room above would fall on us. An observatory houses instruments for viewing the sky.” Yes, I was actually waiting for the dome to open and wondered if the images I saw was from the projector or from the real sky…joke’s on me.
Shows at the McMaster Planetarium usually run on Wednesday at 7:00 PM and 8:15 PM. March break special is coming with shows at 2:30 PM for those who cannot make it in the evenings. Reservation is needed and admission is $5 per show. Book tickets early before they run out fast!
Oh yea, the best views are in the last row!