Qatar’s first planetarium unveiled

Doha: The Cultural Village Foundation — Katara officially unveiled Qatar’s first-of-its-kind high-tech planetarium coinciding with the celebrations of Qatar National Day.

Named Al Thuraya Planetarium, the first astronomical dome in Qatar was opened by Katara General Manager Dr. Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Sulaiti in the presence of diplomats and dignitaries.

Al Sulaiti said that the newly launched planetarium caters to all age groups as it has some interactive features that give visitors knowledge about astronomy in an interesting way.

He underscored Katara’s keenness in educating the new generation in different fields of culture and science to broaden their knowledge and understanding. The planetarium takes visitors in a journey around the galaxies of the universe in a simplified manner that fits children and adults in two languages, English and Arabic.

Occupying 2,240sqm area, the planetarium is expected to become one of the main attractions at Katara. It offers a rare experience to visitors, blending education and entertainment, especially students, families and astronomy enthusiasts.

The main component of the planetarium is a full-dome digital system with a seating capacity of 200 people, four seats for the disabled and another four for the elderly. It features a 22-meter screen, equipped with state-of-the-art digital projectors showing 2D and 3D tutorial shows.

A vast terrace overlooking the sea serves as a platform for events and activities.

The operating system of the Planetarium (Digistar) has very unique features such as an amazing tool to process 3D illustrations projected to the main screen of the dome.

The system also features live streaming feature domecasting, which enables other similar theatres and domes in the world that are equipped with the same Digistar system to broadcast live presentations between each other, which enables other galleries to meet and watch live performances and experiment simultaneously, and live presentations to be broadcast in the Al Thuraya.

In addition, the Planetarium features information on Earth Science which contains more than 200 unique data sets in five categories: astronomy, atmosphere, geology and the oceans. This includes more than 25 terrestrial weather data, solar data sets and a number of awareness presentations by professional trainers.

There is also a museum within the Planetarium displaying astronomical figures and history such as the story of the split of the moon in the era of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), and a number of models of the planets of the solar system in various sizes, in addition to models of space shuttles and astraunaut suits.

The Planetarium is named after the Thuraya (Seven Sisters) which is a cluster of seven bright stars (the Pleiades M45). It is considered one of the most beautiful sights in the sky which Arabs call the Thuraya (Wealth in Arabic) which was of great significance to them in the ancient times.

On the eve of the opening, Katara signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Qatar Satelite Company Es’hailsat to exchange expertise and operate the new Planetarium. The cooperation will include conducting lectures  and workshops for school and university students.

Katara also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Oman Oil Development Company in November last year to train Qatari youth in the field of planetariums and managing astronomy domes.

Source: The Peninsula Qatar