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Welcoming the future, honouring the past

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Birla Planetarium now provides visitors with a 360-degree immersive experience, thanks to a new digital projector

Around a fortnight ago, the B.M. Birla Planetarium at Tamil Nadu Science & Technology Centre in Kotturpuram was reopened after a marathon 18-month renovation. The planetarium now has a cutting-edge hybrid digital opto-mechanical projector which offers high-definition images of the simulated night sky and celestial objects. This projector replaces the mechanical projector that has served the cause of science and education well.

‘The millennial marvel’

The Executive Director (In-charge), S. Soundararajaperumal, says, “The digital projector offers a 360-degree immersive video effect, creating an ‘environment’ that makes the viewer feels he is inside and a part of it. Another advantage is that within a few seconds, we could switch over to the next simulation. For instance, the night sky from any part of the world and anytime (10,000 years back or forward in time) can be called quickly. Doing so with the earlier projector was time-consuming. Moreover, the mechanical projector can render only still images. For these reasons, we had to go for a next-generation projector”

‘The resting giant’

As a mark of respect to the decommissioned mechanica projector, the Tamil Nadu Science & Technology Centre has now christened it as “The Resting Giant” and kept it ouside the planetarium for public viewing.

“Since May 11, 1988, planetarium was using the Japan-make slide projector. More than 60 lakh visitors have watched shows organised with the help of this projector. This mechanical projector required 35mm film rolls which are not easily available now. Besides, it has been difficult to find spare-parts in case of any repairs,” says

S. Soundararajaperumal

Additional attraction

In addition, a new facility called “Science on a Sphere” (SOS) has been established. “The SOS facility is developed by National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S.A., as an education tool which helps to illustrate planet earth from various perspectives. To give a few examples, perspectives of climate, ocean temperature, agriculture and forest,” says the Executive Director.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 3:49:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/welcoming-the-future-honouring-the-past/article30230605.ece

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