The planetarium in Moscow – closed down for 17 years – is finally reopening after sweeping renovations, billing itself as the largest planetarium in all of Europe with a massive 17,000 sq. meters of floor space.
The renovations were first scheduled to begin back in 1994, only to be suspended for years by numerous lawsuits and scandals about who owned the complex. Restoration work finally began two years ago, but it looks like it’s been worth the wait.
The new planetarium is quite unique from its old predecessor, which opened back in 1929 and used to show mostly science fiction theatrical productions.
Standing at 6 meters taller than before and boasts of being the most hi-tech attraction of its kind, with a brand new educational compound complete with not one but two observatories, a fully updated research center and two interactive science museums.
Amongst the top attractions, vsitors to the planetarium will be able to explore black holes and tornadoes, set the Foucault Pendulum in motion and even get to run around on the surface of the moon! The space center also features a 4D cinema which will screen documentary movies about the universe and the history of space exploration, while guests can even get to sample the freeze-dried ration packs given to cosmonauts.
Faina Rublyova, Scientific Director of the planetarium, has welcomed the new innovations, saying “While it’s a shame that not much remains from the old planetarium, the new attractions make it a worthy 21st century tourist attraction. We cannot afford to lag behind other countries, we must be out in front. I hope that the new planetarium can follow the traditions of the old one, which was one of the leading centers of its kind for much of the last century.”
Scientists at the new planetarium plan to organize their own research projects which students can take part in, as well as beginner astronomy classes for school kids and visitors. The planetarium’s Big Star Hall boasts the largest dome in Europe at a staggering 25 meters wide.
The main idea of the planetarium is to explain the complexities of space and astronomy in simple, easy-to-understand language says Rublyova.
“We hope for the planetarium to be a center that makes science popular again. The vast majority of our visitors have little knowledge of science, and so we hope to teach them about the latest achievements of science in a way that they can understand,” she explains.
“We will invite scientists from all over the world to come and discuss their work, so we can help people to become more knowledgeable. In this regard, the planetarium is perfect as it gives us the means to show people rather than just tell people.”