A 2,240 square-metre area Al Thuraya Planetarium, a facility with interactive, hi-tech features that take visitors on a journey around the galaxies of the universe, was unveiled at the Cultural Village Foundation (Katara) as the country marked Qatar’s National Day on Tuesday.
Located in Building 45, the first astronomical dome in Qatar was unveiled by Katara General Manager Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al Sulaiti in the presence of several diplomats and dignitaries.
The planetarium is named after the Thuraya (Seven Sisters), which is a cluster of seven bright stars (the Pleiades M45) and considered one of the most beautiful aspects of the sky Arabs referred to as Thuraya (wealth in Arabic). The cluster was known since prehistoric times when ancient astronomers had mentioned it frequently.
Commenting on the momentous event, Sulaiti said the new planetarium would be suitable for all age groups as it has some interactive features that give visitors a great idea about astronomy in an interesting and simplified manner in two languages — English and Arabic. The Katara chief said the institution is keen on educating young generations about different cultural and scientific fields to diversify their knowledge and understanding.
Blending education with entertainment, Al Thuraya features a planetarium hall, a full-dome digital system, with a seating capacity of 200 people, four seats for the disabled and another four for the elderly. It is highlighted with a huge 22-metre screen, equipped with state-of-the-art digital projectors featuring 2D and 3D tutorial shows.
A vast terrace overlooking the sea will serve as a platform for events and activities.
The operating system of the planetarium, Digistar, has unique features such as an amazing tool to process 3D illustrations which is projected to the main screen of the dome. The system also has a live streaming feature DOMECASTING, which enables other similar theatres and domes in the world that are equipped with the same Digistar system, to broadcast live presentations between each other.
In addition, the facility features information on Earth Science which contains more than 200 unique data sets in different categories — astronomy, atmosphere, geology and the oceans. This includes more than 25 terrestrial weather data, solar data sets and a number of awareness presentations by professional trainers.
A museum within the planetarium completes the astronomy education of the visitors. It displays astronomical figures and history such as the story of the splitting of the moon in the time of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), and a number of models of the planets of the solar system in various sizes, in addition to models of space shuttles and astronaut suits.
Katara’s diverse celebrations of Qatar National Day, which kicked off on December 11, also feature paratrooper shows, drone shows, international army musical shows, horse parade of Amiri Guard, workshops and competitions and exhibitions etc.