In an exceptionally well-planned and strategic upgrade, the Iziko Planetarium in Gardens, Cape Town, has made a move toward providing visitors with 3D audio-visual experiences. New technology permits unprecedented visualisation and virtual space tours for visitors, as well as exciting new avenues for researchers of multiple disciplines. The R30m investment was unveiled in a preview on Tuesday 23 May 2017 and has received only positive feedback from the lucky few who scored tickets.
Iziko CEO, Rooksana Omar, went so far as to say to guests, “This space is no longer a planetarium as you know it. It is in fact a digital dome.” Previously unheard of on African soil, the ‘fulldome cinema’ at the Iziko Museum now allows for multimedia, fully-immersive theatrical experiences. Outside of the actual cutting edge technology used for training space travellers, one might hazard a guess that such an experience is as close to the real thing as is possible for an average South African.
It’s now possible to weave in and out of the particles that make up Saturn’s rings, and even orbit Jupiter in search of the Great Red Spot. Best yet, the virtual tours are based on actual satellite imagery, some of which come from NASA and the ISS! There is even a constellation guide, similar to the older representation of the night sky – this time, the stars are mapped by data collected by Southern African telescopes.
Doubling up as a research tool and facility, the Iziko’s digital dome could even help neurological experts better understand the synapses of the brain, from an internal viewpoint. Data mined through vast numbers of international collection points can be converted into audio-visual outputs which allow for targeted data conversion and processing. Hoping to work alongside the University of Cape Town department of Film and Media Studies, the Iziko team also hopes that the new facility’s prestige will help promote local 3D, animation and artistic film content.
Resulting from a collaborative investment, the Iziko digital dome will charge a nominal fee of R40 for adults and R20 for children and senior citizens, for each show within the new facility. A surefire way to prove Africa’s competitive ability in the digital technology arena, we expect much more good news to emanate from the halls of the Iziko Planetarium in the months and years to come.