Timings: 10 AM to 5:30 PM; Weekly holiday: None; Shows: 10:45 AM (English), 12:00 PM (Tamil), 1:15 PM (English), 2:30 PM (Tamil), 3:45 PM (English)
I was around 9-10 years of age when I first visited this Planetarium – I still remember how I felt immediately after coming out of the show – I was in awe of the whole concept. Those days, as with any other kid, astronomy and space fascinated me. I was pretty sure that I wanted to become an astronaut It was such a cool thing to say when someone asks you if you wanted to become an engineer or doctor!
The B M Birla Planetarium is in Kotturpuram (In between Guindy and Adayar), but I reached it through the Cenatoph Road from the Mount Road. Its near the newly constructed Anna Centenary Library, IIT Madras & Anna University. Like all the other institutions in this place, it is very green and spacious. In fact, one has to walk for around 150 meters to reach the gate from the main road. And all along that road, the side wall has been painted with useful and interesting milestones in Science like the above photo and the below photo.
There was even one painting that explained the various parts of an engine motor! This effort should be appreciated. The Planetarium conducts shows for 5-6 times a day in Tamil and English alternatively, and I went for the English one. This was about the various planets in the Solar System and the last time I came here before about 4 years (For the AC, wanting some respite from the Summer heat), the show was about Moon. I guess they have different topics.
There is a white coloured dome structure (roof) on which they project the images using a big fancy projector. The seats are almost in lying down position in order to get a clear view of the projected images in the roof. I get thrilled (even now) when they switch off the lights for the first time and the stars come alive over me – Its just like a real night! That makes me wonder – how many years its been since I star-gazed? (In the real sky, I mean).
This is the close up view of the huge projector in the Planetarium. This one can project at many places on the roof, and you can see the stars almost all over the roof! Should have been tough to make such a thing. It seems, a day in mercury goes on for a whole year! And Venus is named over the Greek God of beauty.
Mars, is very close and very similar to our earth. Jupiter is the biggest planet and one of its moon is almost as big as Mercury! This was first observed by Galileo – In fact he observed four moons in the 17th Century using a Telescope he made for this purpose. Saturn’s beautiful rings are due to the presence of various asteroids in its orbit. Uranus and Neptune are very cold and take many years to orbit around the sun.
Pluto, is no longer considered a planet and it seems, other such sub-planetary structures have been found beyond Pluto as well. Many stars have been observed to have planets orbiting around them, and hopefully one of them will have life! I would be glad if they do find life forms outside our solar system in our lifetime itself. For all they hype they are given in the movies, it would be good to see one real life alien, at least!
It seems, our constellation (Milky Way) is on a collision course with our nearest constellation (Andromeda Galaxy) and both of them will collide with each other in the next 3 million years. I wonder how useful that information could be to us
BTW, there is a 3D show in another small theater in this Planetarium complex – Its titled as Science show, but all they show is dinosaurs in water and mad scientist creating all kinds of reptiles. The kids were shouting throughout the show. Even I was afraid, and had to apply all my logical reasoning to convince myself that the angry snake with its open mouth coming so near to us is just an illusion! Maybe the whole life is, as well!