Media Releases

New planetarium set to open at U of T

August 18, 2010

TORONTO, ON – The Milky Way over Giza in 2500 BC. The stars above Toron­to tonight. Amaz­ing new views of the sky in radio waves, infrared light and gam­ma rays from space obser­va­to­ries.

With the open­ing of a state-of-the art plan­e­tar­i­um this fall at UofT, thou­sands of stu­dents will get to see the sky like nev­er before.

“No lec­ture slides or illus­tra­tions in books can offer our stu­dents the kind of under­stand­ing that can be achieved with a high­ly real­is­tic and accu­rate pic­ture of the night sky,” says Ray Carl­berg, Asso­ciate Chair, Under­grad­u­ate, at UofT’s Depart­ment of Astron­o­my and Astro­physics. 

“This dig­i­tal plan­e­tar­i­um is an extra­or­di­nary teach­ing tool. The pro­jec­tor allows us to dig­i­tal­ly fly from view­ing the sky from the dock of lake on a warm sum­mer night, out through the solar sys­tem and Galaxy to get close­up views of plan­ets, explod­ing stars, and merg­ing galax­ies. We can use it as a time machine to watch sim­u­la­tions of the big bang, the for­ma­tion of galax­ies, and for­ma­tion of our own moon. Every UofT stu­dent tak­ing astron­o­my at any lev­el will have a chance to use it and senior stu­dents will have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate new pro­grams of their own.”                                                      

This stu­dent-ori­ent­ed facil­i­ty uses tech­nol­o­gy com­pat­i­ble with that used in world-renowned spaces like the Hay­den Plan­e­tar­i­um at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry in New York, says Carl­berg. The tech­nol­o­gy will enable instruc­tors to show stu­dents not only pre-set pro­grams designed for the major plan­e­taria, but also unique pro­grams they devel­op based on stu­dent needs. Using the inter­ac­tive soft­ware, stu­dents them­selves can be cre­ative in their own explo­rations of the sky using a stan­dard video game con­troller.  

“Because of light pol­lu­tion, many peo­ple who live in Toron­to have not had the plea­sure of con­nect­ing with the night sky,” says Peter Mar­tin, for­mer chair of Astron­o­my and Astro­physics and pro­fes­sor at the Cana­di­an Insti­tute for The­o­ret­i­cal Astro­physics and inter­im direc­tor of the Dun­lap Insti­tute.  “It’s excit­ing that thou­sands UofT stu­dents will soon enjoy a huge­ly inter­ac­tive, high-tech view of the skies above this city and beyond.”  

In the future, Mar­tin expects the plan­e­tar­i­um to be open to mem­bers of the pub­lic, first in asso­ci­a­tion with the month­ly Thurs­day night tours through the Depart­ment and then via new out­reach pro­grams devel­oped by the Dun­lap Insti­tute. 

The 8–metre wide plan­e­tar­i­um – which can seat up to 20 peo­ple – is housed in a spe­cial­ly-ren­o­vat­ed room in the Astron­o­my and Astro­physics build­ing at 50 St. George St. and with some plan­ning can be relo­cat­ed to oth­er venues for spe­cial events. 


For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:
Ray Carl­berg

Peter Mar­tin

April Kemick
Media Rela­tions Offi­cer