AC Buzz

First ‘Open 3D’ Planetarium opens in Montsec, next one Bristol


img_event_logo_parc_astronomic_montsec_fulldome_eventIn 2013, the UNESCO-supported Starlight Foundation granted Montsec Observatory, located in the Catalan Province of Lleida, its own Tourism certification, for having “one of the clearest skies in the world”. On 14 March, Montsec’s Centre for the Observation of the Universe (COU) reopened its doors for its seventh season.

3D_1735413cThis year its multimedia facility – the Eye of Montsec – has been converted into the first ‘Open 3D’ planetarium in the world. With a capacity of around 70 people, it is now equipped with highly advanced audiovisual equipment, recreating total-immersion virtual environments. Moreover, thanks to its retractable dome and front wall, viewers can enjoy an uninterrupted view of the sky.


And the next one in Bristol!

Junior star-gazers in Bristol have been given notice that they will have to share the city’s soon-to-be-3D planetarium with data scientists and marketeers as the city burnishes its tech hub credentials.

bristol_planetarium_exteriorThe planetarium at the City’s At-Bristol science centre is being overhauled ahead of a relaunch at the end of this month. The revamp is part of the city’s Bristol is Open plan to capitalise on its tech nous and position itself as the word’s first “Software Defined Programmable City”.

The revamped 100 seat planetarium will feature two 4K resolution projectors powered by 17 computers to deliver a 120Hz 3D model of the universe, At-Bristol boss Phil Winfield told The Reg. This will make it the UK’s first 3D planetarium, he claimed.

If that horsepower isn’t enough, it’ll be hooked up into a supercomputer at Bristol University over the superfast network put in place as part of the scheme. Bristol bought fibre ducts around the city from telecoms providers back in the noughties, and has rewired them with 144 core fibre.

This will allow data to be hosed down from the university at a sharpish 100Gbps and analysed using the planetarium kit. Which certainly sounds more spectacular than staring at yet another PowerPoint on a slightly bigger than home screen.

Except that when this is happening, it will no longer be a planetarium; it will be a “data visualisation dome” said Winfield.

So, just as the update planetarium software will allow viewers to fly around the universe, the data visualisation dome will allow researchers, data scientists, engineers and marketeers to fly around their data. And presumably present it to starry-eyed potential funders. Private companies will also be able to hire the space.

Sources: CNA and The Register.

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