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"The renovated M P Birla Planetarium is starting a new journey from today and it is a unique and fabulous project", said Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, dedicating the renovated and upgraded Planetarium to the city of Kolkata today (Tuesday, 18 July 2017). "Since my student days I am fond of this Planetarium and this facility has no substitute", she added.She further said the Planetarium would be of interest to all, young and old. This should be included in the tourist map and students as well as foreign tourists should be encouraged to visit the facility.

The Chief Minister said Shri M P Birla was a visionary. The M P Birla Group works for social purpose. She added that South Point, belonging to the Group, should not remain a school only but also plan to be a college and university.

Shri Sovan Chatterjee, Mayor of Kolkata, and Shri Rajeev Kumar, Commissioner of Police, were present.

Shri Harsh V Lodha, Chairman, M P Birla Group, said the Planetarium, established in 1962, has been upgraded after 52 years of successful operation, to make it comparable to the world's best facilities of similar kind. He said it is one of the largest in the world in terms of its size of dome and seating capacity.The Carl Zeiss hybrid projection system, installed at the Planetarium, has one opto-mechanical projector and nine ultra-high resolution digital projectors (velvet projectors). The projectors have been specially fabricated to the specification and dimension of the M P Birla Planetarium. "Velvet" implements the capability of video projections that can be super-imposed on the optical sky without spoiling its brilliance.

Shri Lodha referred to the Priyamvada Campus of South Point and said "we hope to begin construction soon." He also referred to the commencement of the construction of the Nursing School and College for Belle Vue Clinic at Rajarhat.

Features of the new-look Planetarium:

  1. Transformation from only opto-mechanical to the hybrid projection system, including state-of-the-art full-dome digital projectors
  2. Attractive exhibition gallery
  3. New seminar hall
  4. New Astro-corner
  5. Complete renovation of the front facade, dome and all other facilities

The Planetarium has been conducting a series of school programmes for students of various age groups. Since inception, it has been conducting a free evening course in astronomy. Citizens from all walks of life, in the 18-80 years age group, join this 10-month, once a week, astronomycourse. In 1993, a PG Diploma Course in Astronomy & Planetarium Sciences was introduced.

The M P Birla Institute of Fundamental Research, the parent body of the Planetarium, has been recognized by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO), on account of the research activities on different branches of astrophysics and cosmology and also because of its exemplary efforts in public outreach.

The M P Birla Memorial Award was introduced in 1993 to recognize excellence in research in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Science and related areas. The award, given biennially, has been conferred upon stalwarts of our country in the field of Astrophysics and Space Sciences.

The Planetarium was built by SytMadhavPrasadji Birla, founder of the MP Birla Group, whose birth centenary is being celebrated. The MP Birla Group has a substantial philanthropic presence in keeping with the legacy of its founder. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam described Syt Birla as a "true example of how business, social service and philanthropy can converge on a unique personality."

  1. The new-look Planetarium will be open for public on and from 22 July 2017.

M P Birla Planetarium was the first public planetarium in Asia and second in the Commonwealth after London. It is also one of the largest in the world in terms of its size of dome and seating capacity. In the 52 years that it has functioned, more than 25 million people have visited the Planetarium and it has designed and presented more than 300 astronomical shows, dealing with various aspects of astronomy, astrophysics, celestial and space sciences and even mythology, concerning stars and planets.

At the time of inauguration of the Planetarium in July 1963, Jawaharlal Nehru stated: "We tend to exaggerate the importance of our petty selves on this speck of dust. So, this Planetarium must serve a useful purpose, apart from gathering knowledge and imparting it. It gives us an idea of what we are and makes us think in a true prospective."