Wits Planetarium Centenary Shows
- Wits Unversity
Last opportunity this June to view the nearly 100 year old Star Projector in operation, as it will be replaced with a fully digital dome projection system.
The Wits Planetarium has been a site of wonder and discovery for many children and adults alike. A trip to the Planetarium gazing at the stars, transports minds to our galaxies and what lies beyond our universe. Through the decades, this journey into the stars has been made possible by one marvellous machine, the Star Projector. This marvel, which has served over 1 million curious minds and is part of many childhood memories, will be decommissioned in June and is delivering its last shows this June.
The public is invited to the finale by this nearly 100 year-old historic technological marvel before the curtain falls.
The instrument has served in two countries, in Germany and in South Africa is nearly a century old, and its last performance is on the year that Wits University celebrates its 100 anniversary.
The shows commence on Friday, 3 June ending 25 June. Only 50 seats are available per show. Public bookings via Webtickets: https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/event.aspx?itemid=1482209930; staff and student via Quicket: https://www.quicket.co.za/events/177021-wits-planetarium-centenary-free-shows/
A unique history
The dream to have a planetarium began in 1956, when the Festival Committee tasked with organising the 70th anniversary of the founding of the City of Johannesburg, decided that it would be fitting to mark the occasion by raising the funds needed to buy and house a Zeiss Planetarium, fitted with a projector by the Zeiss manufacturers in Germany. However, time was not on their side as it was soon discovered that it would not be possible to obtain a new instrument within a period of less than a year. The alternative would be to try and acquire an existing instrument.
Through support from the manufacturers, and after prolonged negotiation, the Festival Committee succeeded in convincing the City Council of Hamburg to sell their instrument, the Star Projector, which had been in use in that city since 1930. Part of the conditions stated that the projector must be fully modernised in the Zeiss factory before coming to Johannesburg.
The Star Projector made its way to South Africa in time to take its place as one of the star attractions at the celebrations. The Johannesburg City Council, thereafter, sold the instrument to Wits University Johannesburg City Council for use in the formal instruction of students and as a public amenity for the citizens.
Plans for the Wits Planetarium were drawn in 1958, and building commenced in 1959. On 12 October 1960 the first full-sized planetarium in Africa, and the second in the Southern Hemisphere, opened its doors to the public.
Continuing a legacy
The instantly recognisable dome of the Planetarium is an impressive sight and an important landmark of the City. The Wits Planetarium serves as a symbol of scholarship and cosmic wonder to many members of the public. The next century requires modern digital equipment and the University is continuing on the bold vision of our forbearers. From 1 July, the Planetarium will undergo a major transformation as part of the vision to establish a fully digital dome. The refurbishment project will be completed in 2023.
Be part of the old and the new by visiting now and the transformed in 2023.
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