Planetarium facilities and planetarium professionals together play a unique role in the astronomy information handling hierarchy – that of disseminator of information gathered by the research community. It is possible to think of a planetarium facility as exhibiting the characteristics of both educational institution and media practitioner. This dissemination may come in one of many different forms, depending on the requirements of the presentation and the planetarium professional’s abilities. Planetarians are major link between astronomers and the public, and are expected to interpret and present complex scientific information in an educational, understandable, and entertaining way.
Most of us, at one time or another, have visited a planetarium. We’ve waited under the slowly darkening dome, listening to space music, knowing something wonderful was about to happen. Sometimes a storyteller introduced us to the stars. Other times, we visited alien worlds and observed distant stars. Always we knew we were in a special place, an environment that stimulated our imaginations and touched our souls.
Many smaller facilities in schools and universities are little more than a star projector in a room, and are used mainly for classroom lecture-style presentations. Others have projection and sound reproduction systems ranging from automated slide projector-based panoramas and all-sky arrays to full-dome video projection layouts. These days, content producers are available to supply planetarium facilities with scripts, music, slides, video clips and complete show packages.
One of the most wonderful aspects of astronomy is its capacity to amaze us, to teach us both the universe in a way that no other science can. The planetarium has always been perfectly placed to recreate the night sky and take us away from Earth to realms we would otherwise never have the chance to visit.
“Planetarium: General Information”. 2006. The Manitoba Museum. (October 1, 2007). <http://www.manitobamuseum.ca/pl_info.html>.
No related essays.