A planetarium presents a simulated display of the night sky that allows people to enjoy the wonder of the stars in a comfortable environment regardless of the time of day—or the weather!
The Melbourne Planetarium is located at Scienceworks Museum in Spotswood. It features a 16m domed ceiling, reclining seats, a stereo surround sound system and has recently been upgraded to incorporate Sky-Skan's DigitalSky projection system. This new full-dome video projection system blankets the hemispherical dome with a single seamless, super high-resolution video image. The result is spectacular colour and movement like never before, creating a unique immersive environment and awe-inspiring astronomical experience.
Melbourne Planetarium shows are informative and entertaining for a wide range of audiences. Each show involves a half-hour pre-recorded audiovisual feature that explores an astronomical topic from an angle that is occasionally humorous or quirky but always educational. Melbourne Planetarium shows employ the talents of some of Australia's most creative scriptwriters, actors, visual designers, composers and sound post-production professionals.
Every show is followed by a live presentation of the current night sky and the major astronomical objects that can be seen. The information presented in these sessions allows anyone to go into their backyard at night and experience the joy of astronomy.
Why is it called a planetarium?
Although star maps have been around for thousands of years, recreating the motion of the planets is much harder because unlike the stars, the planets move relative to each other. Moreover, each combination of planetary positions is unique and will never be exactly repeated.
It wasn't until the 1920s that it was possible to recreate the position of the planets for any given date. Because it was so hard to display the positions of the planets accurately, the first machine able to do so was called a 'planetarium'.
Over time, the term planetarium has come to include the entire domed theatre and all of the projection systems within it, including the star projectors that were the original 'planetariums'.