Johannesburg Planetarium - Look Into the Heavens

Since the beginning of mankind, people have looked up to the starry heavens in wide-eyed wonder. The vast array of stars and other heavenly bodies simply dwarf our existence beyond comparison. While this fact has not changed, technological advancements have made it possible to understand more and more about the universe which surrounds us and enchants us each night. We now know amazing specifics, such as the distance between the earth and the sun, the cycle of the moon and it’s effect on our planet, the difference between planets and stars, the approximate number of stars in our own milky way galaxy and that we are just minute part of one small galaxy of which there are possibly thousands. In fact, the more advanced our study of the heavens has been, the more we have realized just how insignificant we are in this amazing mega-cluster of heavenly bodies. The Johannesburg Planetarium will help you discover this world of wonder for yourself.

The Johannesburg Planetarium’s history started in 1956 when the Festival Committee started to raise the funds needed to purchase and house a Zeiss Planetarium. The power’s that be eventually decided to purchase an existing instrument from Europe instead of waiting a year for a new one to be built for them. Eventually the council succeeded by successfully negotiating the sale of the Hamburg Planetarium. This 26-year-old planetarium would have its projector upgraded and modernized during the course of the move and Hamburg would have a new instrument built for them. What was soon to become South Africa’s first full-sized planetarium instrument was taken to Oberkochen for a complete overhaul and upgrade. By the time it arrived in the country, it was as modern and complete as any other instrument of this kind in the world. While the apparatus was undergoing these preparations, the Johannesburg City Council was busy preparing for the instrument’s arrival. It was decided that the projector would be sold to the University of the Witwatersrand for both the general public and the students of the university. Construction for the Planetarium building started in 1959.

On 12 October, 1960, the first full-sized planetarium in Africa opened its doors to the public. This momentous occasion has paved the way for millions of astronomers – both novice and professional – to learn more about the magnificence of the universe. For others it has served to introduce them to the stars in a way they never thought possible. The Johannesburg Planetarium currently holds a number of regular shows, birthday parties, school shows and family shows on the weekends. Why not book and enjoy one of the only two full-sized planetariums in the Southern Hemisphere? It’s a magical experience.


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