Friday, June 7, 2013

Bogotá's Renovated Planetarium

A starry-eyed couple at one of the planetarium museum's exhibits.
The planetarium's light show. (Photo from Unisabana)
Bogotá's recently reopened planetarium brought a pleasant surprise for me. The 44-year-old planetarium closed for three years of renovation, and it seems to have been worth it.

I didn't see the star show (the day's final projection begins, inconveniently, at 3 p.m.), but I'm sure it's nice, even with the 1968 Zeiss proyector. What impressed me was the building's new museum, which is small but manages to provides a nice interactive environment for schoolkids. You won't get new insights into the Theory of Relativity here, but for teenagers who never cared how gravity works, what goes around what in the Solar System and what a black hole is, the museum could spark curiosity and wonder. A dry, lecturing exhibit would have been a disaster.

Dressed right for a spacewalk.
With this renovation, the planetarium is finally coming into its own. During much of its history, it shared its space with various museums and before the renovation it was used for art exhibitions having nothing to do with space or astronomy. (A foreign couple I talked to were surprised to have found an exhibition featuring Marylin Monroe. At least she was a star, anyway.)

If you visit the planetarium, remember that the last group enters the space show at 3 p.m. and the last group enters the museum at 4 p.m.

A talk in the Planetarium's museum.

The planetarium is located between the Parque de la Independencia and the Plaza de Toros.

The planetarium's 1968 Zeiss projector got a technology upgrade and is still going strong. 

Schoolchildren chasing gravity. 

Bogotá's original observatory, built in 1803 and located near the Casa de Nariño. Julio Garavito, who is on the 20,000 peso bill, worked here. 

Children studying space. 

The planetarium is located in the Centro Internacional. The Hotel Tequendama is visible in the background. 

According to the planetarium's museum the famous statues of San Agustin had an astronomical element. 

The planetarium's café looks out over Parque de la Independencia. 

A statue of Copernicus in Parque de la Independencia. The bullfighting stadium is behind. 
A model of Galileo's telescope. Copernicus put the sun in the middle of the Solar System, but history's given Galileo the credit.

Soldiers march past Bogotá's historic space observatory, where astronomer Julio Garavito worked.

The tomb of Colombian astronomer Julio Garavito in Bogotá's Central Cemetery. Garavito is on the 20,000 bill, and some people believe that rubbing the bill against the tomb brings luck and fortune.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

Stuart Oswald said...

I'll be visiting this for sure. Nice pictures.