A month before the scheduled launch of Chandrayaan-2, India has set up its first virtual 3D planetarium in Mangaluru on Thursday. With the projection dome measuring 18 metres in diameter, the Swami Vivekananda 3D Planetarium at Dr Shivaram Karanth Pilikula Nisargadhama (SKPN) will join a handful of nations offering virtual 3D tour of celestial bodies.
Located at the Regional Science Centre at Pilikula, the planetarium claims to house the latest technology to enthuse students, astronomers and stargazers alike. The 3D observatory in particular has deployed Megastar IIA optical projector developed by Ohira Tech Japan. According to Ohira Tech, the 8K ultra-bright LED-based projector with 32 lenses can beam 20 million stars uniformly and seamlessly over the nano-seam panels of the dome, thereby avoiding the overlapping of projected visuals.
Along with active stereo 3D glasses, the audience will be able to gain a realistic and close feel of astronomical bodies such as the sun and moon in minute detail. The Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution is expected to enhance the creative presentation of scientific programmes.
Further, the screen of the unidirectional dome is tilted at a 15-degree angle to simulate the experience of space travel for viewers. The visual experience of the 3D-Planetarium is backed-up by the 5.1 theatre surround sound system.
Spread across an area measuring 5,200 square feet at SKPN, the foundation stone for the planetarium was laid in March 2013. Initially, the project was estimated to cost approximately Rs 24 crore and was slated to be completed in 2015. However, after a lot of dilly-dallying and cost escalation, the completed project is pegged at Rs 35.60 crore.
According to SKPN officials, the 3D planetarium setup can seat up to 170 people at a time and is primarily aimed at attracting the high density of students in the region, including in neighbouring Udupi district and Kerala. "Earlier, many from the coastal region had to venture out to the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium at Bengaluru or elsewhere, this new centre will meet everyone's expectation," Mangalore South MLA, JR Lobo, told the media.
Enabled with opto-mechanical and 3D digital hybrid system, the Swami Vivekananda 3D Planetarium has joined the league of about 20 other such facilities in places such as Singapore, Shanghai, Hamburg, Bristol, which have state-of-the-art technology and is the first in India.
The entry fee is priced at Rs 60 per adult per show and Rs 25 for children. The planetarium will host six shows daily in English, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam. Besides astronomy, the SKPN will also host shows on geography, history and also special features on Karnataka.
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