Planetarium News — Spring 2006

by Scott Young

Calgary

Last November, Calgary’s TELUS World of Science hosted the official sod-turning for a new wing of the science centre that will feature a “Creative Kids Museum,” an exhibit gallery with an emphasis on creative and performing arts, rather than pure science. The new gallery, housed in a temporary structure at the present science centre, will serve as a prototype for a similar attraction that will be part of a new and much larger science centre now in the planning stages. This new centre, to be built on a different site, will replace what has now evolved into the TELUS World of Science. This facility started life in 1967 as the Calgary Centennial Planetarium. The original planetarium’s traditional Zeiss theatre was replaced in 1996 with a tilt-dome theatre with 8/70mm film projection and a Digistar. Staff and consultants are currently wrestling with what to replace the theatre technology with, given a planned 2010 opening, and debate over 1) the rapidly changing — and converging — digital projection technologies in planetariums and large format cinemas, 2) the changing sources for “canned” programs, 3) the relative mix of imported versus locally-produced programming, and 4) what an audience now wants to see. Anyone with answers to those questions (!) is invited to contact: Alan Dyer at alan.dyer@calgaryscience.ca

Montreal

The Montréal Planetarium will be celebrating its 40th birthday in 2006. With age comes maturity, experience, and wisdom! The Planetarium—a gift to the city of Montréal from the Dow Brewery—opened on April 1, 1966. Over the years, the Planetarium has become a major educational institution of which we can be proud. Since it opened, more than six million visitors have been introduced to the secrets and wonders of the Universe. Special activities are planned for the 40th anniversary. Montrealers will be invited to an activity-filled weekend, March 31 to April 2, which will include demonstrations, a special 40th anniversary contest, a new exhibition, and 1966 entry fees! Other activities intended for amateur astronomers  and school groups  will take place throughout 2006. A new show about life in the Universe and public conferences presented by the Planetarium’s astronomers round out the program for the 40th anniversary. Additionally, in 2006, the project for the new Montréal Planetarium will be presented to our visitors. The new Planetarium is scheduled to open in early 2009, a special year in astronomy because it marks the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first observations with his astronomical telescope. Contact: Pierre Chastenay at chastenay@astro.umontreal.ca.

Winnipeg

The Manitoba Museum’s Planetarium is gearing up for the spring opening of “Is Anybody Out There?”, a collaboratively-produced show combining talents from four major Canadian planetaria. The show examines the search for life beyond Earth and the latest discoveries in the search for extraterrestrial life.

In addition, initial research is being conducted on the future of the planetarium theatre, in the context of a new science centre which is also under consideration. Contact: Scott Young at scyoung@manitobamuseum.ca.

Vancouver

Christopher Gaze, Artistic Director of Vancouver’s ‘Bard on the Beach’, and Paul Budra, Shakespearean Scholar from Simon Fraser University, will present a program that looks at the impact of astronomy and the night sky on Shakespeare.  Every Shakespearean play contains a reference to the night sky in some way.  On stage in the H.R. MacMillan Planetarium theatre, Paul Budra will present the contemporary context of astronomy in Elizabethan England and Christopher Gaze will do four dramatic readings from Shakespeare’s plays to illustrate.  All the while, the Zeiss planetarium projector recreates the night sky to illustrate the effects being described. Contact : Erik Koelemeyer at ekoelemeyer@hrmacmillanspacecentre.com.