True to their age and nature, my kid's current interest is stars, planets and moons. He wanted to see the planetarium, not having much idea what it holds. Over the weekend, I decided to visit Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium in Bangalore.
Would you believe if I told you, my only visit to planetarium was possibly 30 years back in Bombay and I had never been to the Bangalore one?
Thus it was that, on a Saturday afternoon we started off to our destination. I had visited the website and gathered that there was an English show The Sun - our Star at 4.30 PM. We had started early, so despite the Saturday afternoon traffic, we were in planetarium by 3.30 PM.
The planetarium itself is located in an island surrounded by one way roads on all-sides, with just one entrance on one side. It is quite tricky to locate the road which has the entrance and I almost missed it despite looking out for it.
Once inside, you are transported to a different world though. It is a specious complex with ample parking. There is an large (though ill-maintained) park with trees providing shade. Then there is the science park - with a number of equipments illustrating different scientific phenomena - pulleys, transfer of motion, kaleidoscope, gravity, to name a few. My kid was fascinated and kept running from one item to the other, despite the searing heat.
There are no online tickets to the show and the counters open exactly half an hour before the show. It was a pleasant surprise to see a room with seating for those waiting for the tickets (similar to the railway reservation centres - now, how many of us visit that these days!) Perhaps the place does get crowded. There were only a dozen people when we got into the queue. But the show itself was full - with a number of school children in attendance.
Like any planetarium, it is a circular theatre with seats arranged in, what else, a circle. The show/projection itself happens on the roof, which is dome shaped. I warned my kid not to ask any questions till we got out, knowing his habit of asking "what will happen now?".
The lights dimmed at 4.30 and the show commenced. The first section was a documentary on light pollution and how it affected our ability to view the night sky. There was message to use night-friendly lights which faced downwards and preferably not to have lights, where appropriate. Then the main show about the Sun commenced. For most parts, it was like watching a movie on a rectangular screen - only there were two screens with identical contents, projected on two parts of the circular dome (to suit the seating). It was only when the room became pitch black and the stars came up covering the entire top did it look spectacular and awe-inspiring. This was but only for a few moments.
The nearly 40 minutes program was more a documentary than visually exciting, though the contents were indeed fascinating - about sun spots, red giant, nova, thermo nuclear fusion and so on.
For Rs.35/- for an adult and Rs.20/- for a child, the tickets are quite decently priced. I guess the quality of programs and content needs some overhauling. I realised that it was not just me, since when I checked the website today, I see renovation work has commenced and it is expected to go for a few months.