The night sky visible to the naked eye, whether seen from a dark site or inside a planetarium, is unfortunately a very shallow view of the universe. One can barely make out our Galaxy. There is a great need to reveal to planetarium audiences the nature of our Galaxy and how galaxies such as ours are sprinkled throughout the visible universe, within a world bounded by the shell formed by the Cosmic Microwave Background. One way of doing this is to resort to full dome video, such as was done in the re-opening of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, but this requires a large budget. Alternatively, ‘all-sky’ images, projected in register with the planetarium star field can show us what the eye cannot see. Furthermore, the software and databases used to make the New York production are now available in a form that can be run on a almost standard pc.

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Planetariums - Beyond the naked eye

Anthony Fairall   Iziko Museums of Cape Town

The night sky visible to the naked eye, whether seen from a dark site or inside a planetarium, is unfortunately a very shallow view of the universe. One can barely make out our Galaxy. There is a great need to reveal to planetarium audiences the nature of our Galaxy and how galaxies such as ours are sprinkled throughout the visible universe, within a world bounded by the shell formed by the Cosmic Microwave Background. One way of doing this is to resort to full dome video, such as was done in the re-opening of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, but this requires a large budget. Alternatively, ‘all-sky’ images, projected in register with the planetarium star field can show us what the eye cannot see. Furthermore, the software and databases used to make the New York production are now available in a form that can be run on a almost standard pc.

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