4 years ago I promised my youngest son a trip to the Katowice Planetarium. After reaching the place, it turned out that it had been closed for the renovation period, which was supposed to take about a year. For various reasons, like a pandemic, it ended in four, but it was worth the wait.
Open on Saturday
The official opening of the Planetarium took place on Saturday June 11. On this occasion, the city has prepared additional attractions in the form of concerts and performances by artists such as Dawid Kwiatkowski or the song and dance ensemble “Śląsk” under the direction of Krzesimir Dębski, as well as a show of drones. For astronomy fans, however, it’s just beginners, the most important being dozens of science novelties.
The renovated planetarium is in fact a modern science park under constant development, with the ambition to become a place similar to the Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw. The changes affected not only the system responsible for displaying images of the sky, where the analog Zeiss star projector was replaced by digital devices in 8K resolution, there were also dozens of additional scientific attractions.
In addition to the main screening room, hidden under an impressive 23-meter dome, we also have two permanent exhibitions, the first is “Astronomy” and the second is “Geophysics”. In both cases, the group leader will guide us through the intricacies of the issues raised there, by explaining scientific subjects on multimedia stands and by supervising the experiments that are carried out there.
In the “Astronomy” room, the historical device from Zeiss occupies the central position. As the employees of the Planetarium told us, this retreat turned out to be mandatory. Although this masterpiece of analog engineering is in perfect working order, you can no longer get 1500W bulbs for it. Unfortunately, attempts to adapt a modern light source to it have not yielded sufficiently good results.
Around the old projector, multimedia stations make it possible to view presentations on the nature of light, the means of “capturing” it through the optics of telescopes, methods of improving the quality of the image. In one of the stations we can compare the capabilities of different telescopes and learn about their construction, we also have a muon detector at our disposal. Children are especially delighted with two stands, an interactive screen showing the classification and life cycle of stars, and a room showing a spectacular 3D film.
There are even more attractions waiting for us at the exhibition “Geophysics”, in which we can experience an earthquake in a special simulator, compare the influence of different climatic conditions in weather cabins. We will be able to cause a storm on the model of Katowice, using a Tesla coil, and also… announce the weather forecast in a green screen television studio.
The interactive spherical screen makes a great impression, on which we can actually admire the images of individual celestial bodies, such as moons or planets. Much of the room is also taken up with devices and experiments explaining the basics of seismography. Suffice it to say that it takes around 2.5 hours to complete this educational trail.
At the top
There are also two additional attractions at the end of this room. One is the entrance to the new watchtower with the camera obscura attraction, but the second has a chance of being the busiest attraction in the planetarium, and this one is a space flight simulator.
The capsules prepared by the Polish companies Motion Systems and SIM Factor are mobile, equipped with VR glasses and allow us to experience the launch of the rocket from the Silesian Park, to experience overloads and even something like microgravity. Our relatives can admire the flight parameters on the simulator in the service center.
Crowd at the opening
Crowds came to the opening of the Planetarium, which was clearly visible at the ticket counters with very long queues. There were people of all ages among the visitors, and they all seemed delighted with the expanded nature of the facility. For my part, I strongly advise you to visit this place, especially if you have children*.
* it should be noted that children under 3 years old cannot enter the rooms.
Photos: own and fb.com/PlanetariumSlaskie