Sunday 17 June 2012

Planetario de Santiago

This evening I visited the Planetario de Santiago, which is run by the University of Santiago.
Planetario de Santiago (at night)

They have a series of different planetarium shows and the one I saw was called 'Ha nacido una Estrella.El Universo esta vivo' (in English 'A Star is Born. The Universe is alive').

The planetarium itself is a pretty huge one, possible as big as the one at Glasgow Science Centre and has a similar projection system. The show started with a full dome pre-recorded presentation (made for IYA2009 by the University of Santiago), which started with a timeline of the start of the Universe put into context with the beginning of life, and the beginning of human life.

The show then went on to talk about the life cycle of stars, and how this life cycle links into life on Earth, touching a little on how the elements are created through fusion.

The show was a good mixture of images - both astronomical and biological - and from what I could understand (which, I think, was surprisingly quite a lot!) the level of science was pretty good - not too much, but definitely not dumbed down at all.

After the full dome show (which I thought maybe went on a touch too long, but perhaps that was because I was having to concentrate on understanding the Spanish) there was a live stargazing guide. This was good, but not great - but to be fair, this criticism could have again actually been due to my language difficulties. I felt  there wasn't enough structure to the guide and it was a little difficult to follow where the guide was going to be pointing next. One good thing: he of course pointed out where the Magellanic Clouds are, so I know where to look for them. I'm very excited about seeing them for real!

The end of the show was a little random I felt, and made me feel a bit sick to be honest!! The projector was moved about a lot and they seemed to just be randomly switching between projecting the constellation images, the celestial south pole, and the ecliptic. Bit of a shame - if I were them I would have just finished with a nice relaxing session of the stars moving across the night sky as they would do over the course of an evening (this was something they didn't even go into really).

Having said all that, overall, I really enjoyed the show.

After, I had a wander round the centre and looked at the displays, of which there were quite a few nice ones:

Because it was quite late, the interactives weren't on (I presume because they were about to close) but they seemed to have a nice selection of exhibits exploring light and lenses.

Then, I got to do a hands-on activity (really for the kids, but then again, I am after all a big kid!) about the Sun. The guide gave a nice introduction to the Sun and then we made a model sun out of a polystyrene ball, crepe paper (to give the non-smooth surface appearance) and some card for the corona. Best bit was definitely getting to decorate further with glitter!

And my finished article:
The Sun, complete with corona and sunspots!
This was a really nice easy drop-in style activity which the kids seemed to love, but also got across some information about the different features on the Sun - great activity to use in the run up to the solar maximum.

And, I almost forgot...I got to take away a 3D photo of the Transit of Venus, taken from Chile this year! Fab!

1 comment:

  1. Fab trip! Sounds like this is going to be an amazing few weeks. Hope you have fun. x