The Iziko Planetarium in Cape Town is set to get a massive new digital dome upgrade courtesy of the Department of Science and Technology, worth R10 million.

The department announced this yesterday, adding that the upgrade will further stimulate astronomy development through projects like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and other related infrastructure in the country.

By early 2017, when the upgrade is complete, Iziko will boast a massive state-of-the-art digital full-dome theatre facility.

“The DST has invested in this upgrade and the creation of a digital full-dome immersive planetarium at Iziko primarily because it will further support and stimulate the development of astronomy and contribute to ensuring adequate infrastructure in South Africa that can enable cutting-edge research across many disciples,” said Dr Daniel Adams, the department’s Chief Director for Basic Sciences and Infrastructure.

The Iziko upgrade is also mooted to support the development of science, engineering tech skills and field-related researchers  in South Africa.

“Full-dome digital technology has become the norm for planetaria worldwide,” the department said.

“High-resolution multi-media image projection creates riveting immersive and multi-sensory experiences that virtually transport audiences. This innovative evolution – from analogue to full-dome digital technology – will create a hub of creativity and learning for the general public, as well as provide unparalleled educational and e-research benefits,” it added.

Over R20 million from various partners including, the National Research Foundation (NRF), the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, has been invested in transforming Iziko over the past two years.

“As part of the upgraded Iziko Museums of South Africa, the new Iziko Planetarium will feature as one of the African continent’s foremost centres of excellence for heritage, biodiversity and science,” CEO of Iziko Museum, Rooksana Omar said.

“The digital upgrade…will enable the exploration of the furthest reaches of the universe, the depths of our oceans, the inner workings of the human body, the intricacies of atomic and chemical structures, and even ancient cities recreated from archaeological footprints,” the department concluded.

[Source – Department of Science and Technology, image – CC Wikimedia Commons]