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| Last Updated:: 11/09/2014

Inflatable mobile planetarium

See the universe in an inflatable mobile dome

Bangalore Mirror by Niranjan Kaggere, Bangalore, 11th September 2014

The exterior of the mobile planetarium:If students can't visit planetariums to enjoy a view of the heavens, no problems: Karnataka will now take the universe to every school in the state, through mobile inflatable domes that can be set up in 45 minutes, inside which students can sit and watch projections on space that simulate a live journey for them.

As befits a man with rationalist beliefs, chief minister Siddaramaiah wants to introduce the stars and planets to school students through astronomy and not astrology. The state government is planning to link the mobile planetaria to the school syllabus for easy understanding.

Science and technology minister SR Patil told Bangalore Mirror: "Not all students can come to Bangalore and understand astronomical concepts by visiting the Jawaharlal Nehru planetarium. Even in Bangalore, not all students would have seen the planetarium. In this backdrop, we have decided to take planetaria to their schools and explain to every student about our solar system, universe and galaxies."

The department will use inflatable digital mobile domes provided by Infovision Technologies Ltd. "These planetaria are 13 feet high, with a radius of five meters. The dome can accommodate about 35 to 50 students at a time,'' Satish Joshi, Engineer (Projects) of Infovision Technologies, said.

As a pilot project, the programmers have converted the syllabus of primary and high school into various movies including origin of solar system, planetary system, biography of universe and so on. Joshi said: "Equipped with 3D projectors supported by technology developed by the US-based Evans and Sutherland, the shows will be screened on the backdrop of the dome, giving the students an effect of literally travelling into the space. Besides this, by entering the location, date and time, students can see also the sky above them, as the projector is programmed to capture the sky image directly and telecast it live."

Patil said a planetarium has already been tested successfully. He said the same planetarium set-up can also be made use for explaining other subjects like history and other general topics about pollution, environment and ecology. '' We will decide on the number of planetaria that we need for the project after consulting with the Chief Minister," Patil added. Each mobile planetarium would cost Rs 85 lakh to Rs 1 crore including the mobile van. The projector alone costs Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh, according to officials. Currently, the company, which has 21 such planetaria across the country, charges Rs 60 to 65 for each student per show. But with the government supporting the initiative, the cost is likely to come down considerably.