Planetarium stars in a year of successes


The Perpetual Guardian Planetarium is set to celebrate its first anniversary on Monday.
Otago Museum chief executive Ian Griffin said it had been a successful first year for the $1million facility, with audience numbers exceeding staff expectations.
Marketing manager Sarah Jones said more than 31,000 people had visited the planetarium since it had opened.
That figure did not include educational groups and after-hours screenings.
Dr Griffin said the planetarium had hosted five shows over its first year, “Marama a-Whetu”, “The Sky Tonight”, “Spacetronauts”, “Invaders of Mars” and “Amazing Universe”, and a sixth, “We Are Stars”, was upcoming. It was an animated 3-D production from the United Kingdom that looked at the evolution of the Earth through the stars.
The show would begin on December 17 and was narrated by actor and voice-over specialist Andy Serkis, who voiced The Lord of the Rings’ Gollum and King Kong.
Next year’s screenings would include in-house shows about the Antarctic and the auroras australis and borealis (the southern and northern lights), Dr Griffin said.
The planetarium was allowing people to experience “cool things in science”, as well as attracting more people into the museum, Dr Griffin said.
There was growing use of the planetarium by groups and organisations for special screenings after-hours.
Dr Griffin was looking forward to seeing the entries for the 2016 Wildlife Photography Competition, which now included a night sky category.
He was pleased to see an ever-increasing number of children taking an interest in wildlife photography – “just getting people out there creating stuff”.
This summer would be the last chance for visitors to see the present Discovery World setup before it underwent a $3 million redevelopment next year, creating 50 educational exhibitions.
Dr Griffin said he had recently joked on Twitter that when he went to photograph all the awards the museum had won in the past year, he had to take a panorama shot to fit them all in.
“It’s been a really good year for us.”