THE SOUTHERN SKIES PROJECT
Southern Skies Planetarium will be a facility that houses an 80 seat capacity, state-of-the-art digital planetarium, an exhibition area and a gift shop.
A planetarium is an indoor facility that uses audio-visual technology to project and simulate stars, planets and other stellar objects onto a domed ceiling. Planetariums provide programs that operate day and night, independent of weather conditions and in the comfort of cinema style seating. The original planetarium projectors were essentially only able to project star fields. Today’s digital systems are able to show much more than just astronomical material. This provides the ability to present shows on a wide range of subjects as well having the ability to project real 3D data from sources as diverse as research telescopes to underground mines. The technology is similar to that used by NASA for flight and space simulations. At the moment there are just a handful of large permanent facilities in Australia. The main ones utilise the same full dome video systems proposed for Southern Skies by OPI.
Why locate the facility in the Central West?
The Central West region has a long and rich astronomical and science history. Combined with the region steadily growing as a tourist destination, OPI felt that building Southern Skies here was a natural fit.
Aside from the obvious tourism benefits in becoming a unique destination in regional NSW working with other attractions in the region to create themed holidays and activities, OPI also feels it will enhance the social and cultural lifestyle of the Central West.
It will be an ideal way of communicating information to today’s screen-orientated, hands on public, as well as providing local employment and volunteer opportunities for all age groups. It will promote astronomical and general science awareness as well as providing curriculum support to local and regional schools. It will provide significant flow-on benefits to other public and commercial enterprises by complimenting existing and proposed cultural, environmental and social attractions in the region. And perhaps most importantly, it will use affordable technology.
A planetarium and science centre is similar to a library or museum where the benefits and ‘profits’ are considered in terms of the educational, cultural enrichment and economic value offered to a community.