A planetarium in Howrah will be thrown open to the public on December 2, nearly six years after it was conceived.
Senior officials of the Howrah Municipal Corporation said the planetarium had been built at an estimated cost of Rs 14 crore at one end of Sarat Sadan in Howrah Maidan.
“This will be the first Bengal planetarium outside Calcutta. The seating capacity is 100. We have collaborated with a French company to build the structure and the planetarium is fitted with 3D projectors,” said Sujoy Chakraborty, chairman of the Howrah Municipal Corporation.
The planetarium in Howrah will be the second of its kind in Bengal after the MP Birla Planetarium in Calcutta, which is around 60 years old and was the second major planetarium to be set up in commonwealth countries after the one in London just a few years earlier. Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, had inaugurated the planetarium in Kolkata in 1963.
The dome of the planetarium in Howrah is 10 metres in diameter, way smaller than the one in Calcutta with a dome of 23 metres in diameter. The MP Birla Planetarium has 570 seats and is equipped with a digital full dome projection system, which offers a clear representation of the Milky Way and other star clusters.
“The tickets for the planetarium in Howrah will be priced at Rs 120 and Rs 70 for students. Each show will last 30 minutes,” said a senior official of the Howrah Municipal Corporation.
“We wanted to offer an alternative on a much smaller scale for those in Howrah.”
Stargazers and people with an interest in astronomy have welcomed the new planetarium. Planetariums should play a very important role in the understanding of the cosmos and provide impetus to young minds to know more about things that are not always a part of their syllabus, they said.
“Any planetarium is a positive input for the younger generation and the students, who can also think of a career in astronomy,” said Debiprasad Duari, director, Institute of Astronomy Space and Earth Science, Kolkata, and former director of MP Birla Planetarium in Kolkata.