Planetarium loses star shine

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By AMIT BHELARI
  • Published 24.08.10
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Patna, Aug. 23: Indira Gandhi Planetarium is losing its past glory.

The planetarium, located in the Indira Gandhi Science Complex, is one of the largest in Asia. It conducts various programmes related to astronomy to increase the awareness of the audience. The number of shows, however, has gone down from what it was in the beginning. From eight shows a day, the planetarium now has only four shows. The tickets are priced at Rs 20.

The officials, however, say the less number of shows has not affected the planetarium’s popularity. Director of the planetarium Amitabh Ghosh said: “The planetarium has regular film shows on subjects related to astronomy. The shows attract a large number of domestic as well as foreign tourists. The planetarium also holds exhibitions which attracts a lot of visitors.”

“The main machine which was brought from Japan has become old and weak. It cannot take the load of showing films more than four times a day. Earlier, we used to show different kind of films but now its no longer possible. However, we do make special arrangements on occasion like solar eclipse,” said Ghosh.

Sudhir Kumar, a planetarium official, said: “Since its construction, the planetarium has not brought any major changes but it still attracts enough people in the weekends. The planetarium has the capacity to seat 276 people.”

Apart from showing films, the planetarium gets a hefty amount for providing space to exhibitions and other events like news conferences and seminars. The planetarium charges Rs 15,000 for 9 hours booking in addition to 10 per cent service tax. “This practice generates a good amount of revenue for the planetarium. It is much in demand for other events as well,” Kumar added.

However, the visitors think otherwise.

A visitor to the planetarium, Mohammad Iqbal, said: “There has to be some variety in the films shown. It is monotonous to watch the same film over and over again.”

For the past one-and a -half-years the planetarium is showing only one film — In Search of Other World.

Planetarium officials said: “The people visiting the planetarium for the first time are eager and excited to know what goes on inside. However, after the first visit, they avoid coming back because of repetitions of the same programme.”

Conceptualised in 1989, by the then chief minister Satyendra Narayan Sinha, the Indira Gandhi Planetarium was constructed by the Bihar Council of Science and Technology at a cost of Rs 11 crore.

The Indira Gandhi Planetarium was inaugurated by the then chief minister Lalu Prasad on March 21, 1993 and opened to the public on April 1, 1993.