It took a trip to the new planetarium for me to discover that the city of Brisbane is named after the astronomer accredited with charting the southern stars, Sir Thomas Brisbane. With such a name sake, it's no wonder Brisbane City Council have spent $1 million upgrading the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. The planetarium opened in May 1978 and was in desperate need of some new equipment, especially their 35 year old projector.
As you wander around the upgraded free exhibits in the foyer, you can see the "old" Zeiss optical star projector among pieces of meteorite, models of space crafts and an impressive replica of Neil Armstrong's space suit. The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium's souvenir shop is also chock full of interesting scientific toys, books and gadgets to amuse both young and old.
Perfect Little Planet - now showing at Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium
Upgraded Cosmic Skydome:
Any visit to the planetarium is not complete without entering the Cosmic Skydome, a 12.5 metre projection dome with comfy seats aimed at the heavens. This is where the shows take place. There are ten shows to choose from, some for general audiences and some aimed at children. We saw the new children's show, Perfect Little Planet about a family of aliens on vacation to Earth. For a short (50 second) sneek peak, visit the youtube site, but I highly recommend seeing the show, which begins with a high speed space flight through an alien city and explores each of the planets in our solar system from the eyes of the aliens. Which planet will they choose? It's a cute story and most educational too.
After the show, the brand new Megastar IIB Digital Projector came to the fore. Mark Rigby, The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium's learned curator, explained how the new digital projector will take you from the centre of Brisbane to the dark rural night sky and to the edge of the observable universe. The Megastar IIB projector revealed exactly how the sky would look on the night of our visit (we visited at lunch time) while Mark pointed out the location of the brightest star (Sirius), Southern Cross, various other constellations and precisely when and where the moon would rise. It was a lot of information to take in, but the kids completely sponged it up and I learned a heap about the southern night sky.