The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 29 , 2014
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New stop for hi-tech stargazers

Stargazers can take a journey around the sun, moon and other celestial bodies at a planetarium in Shrikrishna Science Centre soon.

Yes, you heard that right. The next time residents want to pay celestial bodies a visit, the Indira Gandhi Science Complex won’t be their sole destination. The Shrikrishna Science Centre is developing a mini planetarium to be inaugurated in November.

This would be the second such facility in Bihar and different from the existing planetarium. If shows at the Indira Gandhi Science Complex run on cylindrical drums and projector, the new facility would be dependant on software. The mini planetarium would be a digital facility.

Swarup Mandal, caretaker, Shrikrishna Science Centre, said: “The Patna planetarium (Indira Gandhi Science Complex) run by the state government has been running the same shows for several years. The equipment it uses is so heavy and costly that the authorities are unable to make any change. With the equipment on hand, they too can only have one type of show. There are long cylindrical drums in the planetarium to which the film reel is fitted. The drums have to be rolled and with the help of heavy lighting and projector, the film is screened four times a day.

“There won’t be any cylindrical drum at the digital planetarium being developing on our campus. We would use computers and screen shows through a software and projector. As we would be using a computer, we would be able to screen five to six types of shows a day. According to our plan, each show would be 10-12 minutes long,” added Mandal, the in-charge of Shrikrishna Science Centre in the absence of project co-ordinator Pradipta Mukhopadhyay who is on leave.

The science centre is going to invest around Rs 5 crore in the project. “There are a few more plans in the pipeline. So, the budget can cross the limit. While around Rs 3 crore is being spent on the building’s structure, around Rs 50 lakh is being invested in the construction of the dome and another Rs 50 lakh on the set of instruments required for the planetarium,” added Mandal.

The mini planetarium will have at least two galleries that are sure to attract children. They would be based on a science fiction theme.

Mandal said: “A 5.1 digital Dolby surround sound system would be brought from a US company for the planetarium. We are also planning for two galleries on the theme of science fiction.”

In the pipeline, Mandal added that the science centre also plans to have an innovation hub. To be developed for around Rs 50 lakh, he the senior official said the innovation hub would include a resource centre, idea laboratory and innovation kiosk aimed at making science fun for children.

The resource centre will have a library for science and technology textbooks to reference. Computer and Internet facilities would be available too. “The idea laboratory would provide help residents pursue creative and innovative activities. For instance, students can be given automobile parts and asked to rebuild a vehicle. The innovative kiosks would showcase ideas and products related to science. The innovation hub would be ready by January. We are also thinking of conducting a sky observation programme for children more frequently,” said Mandal.

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