Wits planetarium goes digital

Wits Planetarium: A centre for future research to pique interest and form opinions

The Wits Origins Centre in Wits University recently hosted the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) third annual conference, attracting astronomers from across Africa. While the atmosphere was charged with conflicting emotions, a melancholic soundtrack filled the room, creating a heart-warming atmosphere. Attendees were treated to a talk on the highly anticipated technological upgrade to the Wits Planetarium dome. This digital transformation, which requires a multi-million-rand investment, will put the planetarium into the digital age, enhancing the experience of visitors and supporting scientific research, artificial intelligence, and digital arts. This is a partnership between Anglo American and the Wits University.

Mr Constant Volschenk, a long-serving planetarium supervisor, spoke passionately about his love for the planetarium. Despite the challenges that come with his job, Mr Volschenk has always found comfort in the sight of the star projector, often taking walks to the planetarium to lift his spirits. He even admitted to hugging the 93-year-old masterpiece when he was feeling down. Sadly, the beloved star projector will soon be replaced as the dome undergoes its digital transformation.

This technological facelift is more than just an upgrade; it represents a significant moment in the growth and development of the Wits Planetarium. By embracing innovative technology, the planetarium will offer a modern and dynamic experience to its visitors, while also supporting academic research and advancing scientific knowledge.

The new digital dome is built in phases where phase one and two will be the expansion of operational offices, seminar rooms, and meeting spaces, this is set to create a space for multi-disciplinary research teams to interact with data and digital dome show experts.

The final phase of the project will create a centre for research, featuring an open-plan office space and a creative studio, among other advantages. This space will allow the Wits team to develop science engagement digital content on-site, furthering their reputation as leaders in the field of science communication. The integration of the Wits planetarium with the Wits Football Stadium and the creation of a media viewing deck and rooftop event space will also add to the planetarium’s unique and innovative offerings.

Wits planetarium is poised for significant growth and development with its upcoming digital transformation. By combining cutting-edge technology with the planetarium’s rich history, the new space will provide a unique and innovative experience for visitors and academics alike, furthering the planetarium’s reputation as a leader in the field of science education and research.