‘This is a one-of-a-kind technology that hardly any other planetarium in the country has.’

You are conscious of the fact that you are seated in air-conditioned hall and yet the effects around you are so powerful that you can completely believe that you are a passenger in a helicopter cruising above the Kovalam coast.

This tourist spot is, by now, quite familiar to all and sundry in the city, so head out a little to the west and experience the idyllic islands of Lakshadweep from up in the sky.

More options, including Ponmudi and few ecologically significant areas of the Western Ghats, have been identified by the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum to become subjects for a unique panoramic viewing experience that the modernisation of the city’s Priyadarshini Planetarium promises to feature.

It was high time the city’s sole planetarium was modernised, for the one currently in operation makes use of age-old software and booting techniques that was long abandoned by others in the country.

But all this is set to change in a little over a year, and by a long mile, courtesy an agreement forged with a German company Carl Zeiss. This modernisation plan promises a whole host of additional components designed to alter the perception of a planetarium as just a viewing experience for the astronomy-inclined.

One of the items listed is a ‘Kerala Panoramic 2D’, whereby a 16 megapixel camera armed with a fish-eye lens will film from a helicopter a range of scenic locations in the State. The filming will be carried out by an expert to be sent by Carl Zeiss and all the KSSTM has to do is arrange the other logistics, said Director of KSSTM Arul Jerald Prakash to The Hindu.

“This is a one-of-a-kind technology that hardly any other planetarium in the country has. The viewer will be made to feel entirely immersed in the experience for the dome’s curvature will be nullified by the fish-eye projection lens that will fill the interior,” said Mr. Prakash.

He compared this with television that is said to occupy only five per cent of a viewer’s cone of vision. He said the innovative makeover of the planetarium would also include IMAX screening capabilities. This motion picture film format allowed the presentation of images of much higher resolution and size.

“The dome will be two metres larger in diameter (17 metres) and its ability to tilt about 15 degrees means no more craning for people in the front row,” said Mr. Prakash. The modernisation should begin in January 2014 and it is estimated to take around nine months to complete at a cost of Rs. 9.74 crore.