18 July, Kolkata
Asia’s first public planetarium, the MP Birla Planetarium here, has been upgraded after 52 years with the latest hybrid projection system from German optical giant Zeiss, at a cost of Rs 42 crore, officials said on Tuesday.
Equipped with state-of-the-art Skymaster Velvet projection system, full-dome digital projectors and an astro corner, the renovated planetarium will open its doors to the public from July 22.
“We have transformed the planetarium from only opto-mechanical to hybrid projection system. The contrast (resolution) of the projection system is 2,500,000:1. This is really high-end technology for India. It is basically an opto-mechanical projector capable of showing the night sky as it is seen naturally. There are accompanying nine hybrid resolution digital projectors that create an immersive impression of the cosmos,” said observatory director Debiprosad Duari.
The observatory, inaugurated in 1963, was the second one to be opened in the Commonwealth after London.
According to Martin Wiechmann, Vice President of Strategic Business Unit Planetariums at Carl Zeiss, the planetarium’s resolution is probably the highest in India.
“The system was customised as per the planetarium’s needs. This may be the system with the highest resolution in India at the moment,” Wiechmann told IANS.
In its 52 years of operation, the planetarium has hosted more than 25 million people and designed and presented over 300 astronomical shows.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who unveiled the new look of the planetarium, advocated inclusion of the observatory in the Indian and international tourist map as a “must-see” destination.