Visit the Stars in Havana
By: Maria Grant Photos by Jorge García Alonso
Since January 20th, the recently opened Havana Planetarium has offered visitors an audiovisual spectacle that puts them in the pilot's seat of a virtual spaceship. Members of the "crew" can seem to move the ship from one place to another and even accelerate or decelerate the passage of time.
The work was inaugurated in December by Havana City Historian Eusebio Leal Spengler and Japanese Ambassador Masuo Nishibayashy.
Located in an old colonial palace that was once outside the Havana Cinema, this new science and technology facil ity joins other scientific treasures in the colonial part of the city, near the singular viewpoint of the Camera Obscura in Plaza Vieja, one of the most appeal ing outdoor spaces restored through the City Historian's Office (OHC in Spanish).
The planetarium project began in 2004 supported by the OHC and CITMA (Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment), with collaboration of Japan's Cultural Assistance Organization to purchase the astronomic planetarium that contributes to the promotion and study of astronomy in Cuba.
The project's goal is to pleasantly and creatively put the vast amount of humanity's knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, physics, exobiology, etc. within everyone's reach. Among other knowledge of contemporary science, the project will serve to Visit the Stars extend and reinforce the popular culture's concepts such as the size, age, and origin of the universe, the evolution of galaxies, stars and planets and the human dimension in space.
The planetarium has four levels. At ground level is the entrance, Universe Hall, the Space Theater, Cosmic Passage and Scales Gallery. The second level contains the Astronauts Hall, the Space Technology Hall, and a snack bar. On the third are the Stellar Hall, Galactic Hall and the Solar System balcony. The fourth floor has the outdoor Observatory.
Using interactive media, these areas recreate such subjects as cosmic art, past, present and future space missions, a cosmic zoo, and reproductions and images of the different objects that integrate the cosmos. Visitors will also find information on extraterrestrials - scientific and fiction, energies of the Universe, and the great men and women in the landmark history of science and technology. There is also the opportunity to see AstroInfo, a varied source of information on scientific institutions in the world, enjoy re-creation of the Big Bang, and take a cosmic voyage inside the sun.
People of all ages can now visit, enjoy, learn and attend conferences, courses and symposiums on contemporary science with high level scientists, both national and international.. The exhibition halls are open Wednesday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, and Sundays 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.