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Planetarium celebrates 20 years, half a million visitors later

Half a million visits later, the Porto Planetarium marks its 20th anniversary on Saturday with the aim of increasing the number of visitors and producing sessions for the younger audience.

According to the director of the Planetarium of Porto – Center of Living Science, Daniel Folha, “in the last 20 years, the Planetarium has surpassed half a million visitors“, a number considered “great, considering the size” but one that is expected an increase.

The director says that the planetarium has the peculiarity of being both a centre for the dissemination of science, but also a research centre in astrophysics astronomy.

In the same building we have the production of knowledge and its dissemination, and this is rare to find,” he explained.

On the eve of his birthday, Daniel Folha emphasizes the role of the one who believes that “it was always an ambitious project“, even when it was “an inflatable planetarium”, called “Star Lab”.

One of the missions of the Center for Astrophysical Astronomy, born in 1989, was the dissemination of scientific knowledge, so they acquired an inflatable planetarium. This planetarium visited countless schools across the country and after six years, when the planetarium building was in the final stage of construction, had already visited more than 120 thousand children, “recalls the director.

However, it was the renovation and modernization of the Planetarium of Porto, in 2014 and 2015, which Daniel Folha stresses as “an important milestone” because the analogue projection system was replaced by the digital system, which ultimately “revolutionized all work and presentation to the public“.

From the moment we started using the digital system, the planetarium itself became a virtual spaceship, allowing us to travel the universe, the solar system, visit other planets and even land on Mars,” he says.

The sessions of the planetarium, developed by experts “inside doors,” thus began to focus on video and animations in two and three dimensions, something that the director still today is “a huge challenge.

It’s a huge challenge because it’s much harder to produce a planetarium session with 2D or 3D animations than producing a static-only session. But it’s a challenge that we embrace and have been exploring with some partners,” he said.

Now the “big goal” of the planetarium team for next year is to produce a session for “more childlike audiences” and elementary school children.

Included in the celebrations of the 2018 Science and Technology Week, the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Planetarium of Porto takes place this Saturday, starting at 14:30, and counts on several activities such as the ‘Space Passport’, ‘Robotics Academy ‘and a rocket workshop.

In the afternoon, the European Space Space, an initiative of the European Space Agency, also includes sessions such as the ‘Junior Space: 3,2,1 … take off’ and ‘Mars, March 19 2021, Mark the Date with Tiago Loureiro ‘.

We want to show the youngest that they can be scientists, that it is a profession like any other and that it is not beyond their reach,” added Daniel Folha.

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