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Johannesburg Planetarium

Overview of the Johannesburg Planetarium

The Johannesburg Planetarium has an estimate of 70 000 visitors per year, many of these being school groups. Age appropriate shows are shown by the Johannesburg Planetarium on a daily basis (excluding Sundays), with special events at certain times during the year, such as on Valentine's day.

The Johannesburg Planetarium uses a Zeiss MKIII star projector.

History of the Johannesburg Planetarium

The Johannesburg Planetarium has a history starting in the year 1956. The Festival Committee, instituted to organize the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the city of Johannesburg, decided that it would be quite fitting to buy and house a Zeiss Planetarium.

Realizing that due to time constraints it would not be possible to obtain a new instrument in less than a year, it was decided that it would be better to try and purchase on the existing instruments in Europe.

With the assistance of the manufacturers, the City Council of Hamburg were convinced to sell the instrument, which has been in use in Hamburg since 1930, to the Festival Committee. There was one condition though. The projector would be fully modernized at the Zeiss factory at Oberkochen, and that a new instrument would be built for Hamburg.

In the meantime, the responsibilities of the Festival Committee was taken over by the Johannesburg City Council, who, after further negotiations, sold the projector to the University of the Witwatersrand to be used in formal training of students, as well as a public amenity for the citizens of Johannesburg and South Africa.

On 12 October 1960, the Johannesburg Planetarium, the first full sized planetarium in Africa, and the second in the Southern Hemisphere, was born.

Although currently the Johannesburg Planetarium is technically owned by the University of Witwatersrand, it is run a joint project with the City of Johannesburg.

The Johannesburg Planetarium is mostly self-funded, generating income from bookings. The University provides about a third of the planetarium's budget.

Astronomy is not formally offered by the University, but the Johannesburg Planetarium does provide academic support to the students in the form of educational programs.

Review of the Johannesburg Planetarium

We have always loved going to Planetariums and seeing the night sky from a different, educational perspective.

South Africa does not have that many public planetariums, but the one's that we do have are great value and very educational. The directors and organizers go to a lot of effort to make every visit extra special, and the Johannesburg Planetarium is no exception.

Seating is comfortable, the information provided extremely interesting, and the stars are beautiful.

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