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Take a Walk Through the Stars at The Biggest Planetarium in India

When we were children, all of us were curious about the wonders of nature. We might’ve inquired about gravity, airplanes, and of course, the limitless universe. We are assured that a large chunk of us wanted to be astronauts and moonwalk across the vast space. To satisfy our burgeoning intrigue, we might’ve visited art museums, planetariums, and natural history museums. While some were as spacious as an endless meadow, others left a bad taste in our mouths. Now that we’ve all grown up, we rarely have time to run amok. If you are reading this article, this is your chance to satiate your inner child. Go play outside, or if you are like us, visit a planetarium. Well, not just any planetarium, but the biggest planetarium in India.

Birla Planetarium Kolkata

The Birla Planetarium, also known as MP Birla Planetarium or ‘Taramandal’ is the biggest planetarium in India and the Asian continent. It is also the second largest in the world. Although it was opened to the public on 29 September 1962, it was formally inaugurated by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru on 2 July 1963. It is situated at Chowringhee Road. The planetarium has been recognised by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO). 

Courtesy – MP Birla Planetarium

There are two other Birla Planetariums in India — BM Birla Planetarium, Chennai and Birla Mandir Planetarium, Hyderabad. The museum was started to educate and inform the masses of the nature of our universe and to promote astronomy, its teaching, and research. At present, the planetarium offers free evening courses on astronomy and a Post Graduate Diploma Course in Astronomy and Planetarium. 

Courtesy – MP Birla Planetarium

Take A Look Inside Birla Planetarium

The architecture of Birla Planetarium is oddly reminiscent of the Buddhist Stupa, Sanchi. It is a single-storey circular building with typical Indian architecture. The planetarium was constructed by ML Dalmiya and Co., owned by former BCCI President, Jagmohan Dalmiya. It has a 23-meter-high dome made of perforated aluminium sheets and 570 reclining seats arranged in concentric circles. 

Courtesy – College Street – Kolkata via Facebook

It was reopened to the public on 18 July 2017, after almost 2 years of renovations. The ‘STARMASTER’, an optical-mechanical planetarium projector, or ‘Starball’, is synchronized with a dome video display system or the ‘ZEISS Hybrid Planetarium’ to operate as the new system for the Birla Planetarium. With superimposed images of constellation outlines, space objects like galaxies and nebulae, planets, and moons, the Starball offers the most realistic starfield in the dome thanks to the VELVET digital video system, also known as full-dome projection. Carl Zeiss AG, a German company, provided and installed the technical upgrade.

Courtesy – LBB

Amenities at the Birla Planetarium

If you have looked at the Birla Planetarium inside images, you can understand the sheer infrastructure of the place. You can find paintings and celestial models, preserved since its inception. At the observatory stands the powerful Celestron C-14 telescope, with cameras (ST6 CCD) and sun filters. The planetarium also houses an electronic laboratory where specialized equipment is designed and manufactured. The Astronomical gallery is filled with interactive models.

Courtesy – MP Birla Planetarium

Drift Through the Stars at Birla Planetarium

The planetarium hosts daily hourly shows in three languages — Bengali, English, and Hindi. The Birla Planetarium timings would alter based on the show language, At present, there are two shows in Bengali and English and three in Hindi. They also conduct shows in Odia, Tamil, and Gujarati, albeit occasionally. 

Image Courtesy – All Time Kolkata via Facebook

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