Carter Observatory ready for lift off

Published: Thu 18 Mar 2010 05:29 PM
Carter Observatory ready for lift off
New Zealand’s place for space is ready for lift-off next weekend with a brand new full-dome digital theatre that will take visitors further into space than ever before.
The newly refurbished Carter Observatory, Wellington’s world-class visitor attraction and astronomy education facility, reopens on Saturday 27 March To celebrate there will be free entry to the observatory for the day and lots of other family fun, including comet and spectroscope making, story telling with Apirana Taylor and entertainment from Kiwi musician Bella Kalolo.
Located at the top of the Wellington Botanic Garden, just two minutes walk from the Cable Car, the observatory’s brand new nine-metre planetarium – a full-dome digital theatre will take visitors on a virtual tour deep into space far beyond our Solar System to the Southern Cross and Te Ikaroa (The Milky Way).
Observatory Director Sarah Rusholme can’t wait for opening day. She says. “People will be amazed at the changes. The aim of the revamp was to make it a must-see visitor destination and open up the interior to create flexible exhibition spaces. It’s an investment in the city’s tourism, education and science industries and will enhance the visitor experience in Wellington. It’ll make a trip up on the Cable Car even more of a memorable experience.”
Mayor Kerry Prendergast says, “This has been a huge investment for Wellington City Council – but seeing such a state-of-the-art attraction operating in such a high-profile location makes it worthwhile.
“The Carter Observatory is a fantastic combination of technology, education and entertainment which will open the eyes of tens of thousands of Kiwis and visitors of all ages to the magic of what is going on above their heads.
“This is a marvelous asset to the city and I’m delighted to see it back in action and better than ever.”
The new hands-on multimedia space will put visitors in control of their own space experience from the beginning of time. Discover the importance of the stars in traditional Māori navigation. Find out how New Zealand’s great astronomers used the stars and check out the observatory’s historic telescopes. All will be open to the public on the day.
The refurbishment of the observatory involved a structural, thermal, fire and electrical upgrade of the whole building. The interior was completely gutted, the brick exterior was earthquake strengthened and the roof, walls and floor insulated.
The Tenths Trust gifted the observatory with its Māori name Te Ara Whānui ki te Rangi, which translates to the expansive pathway to the heavens.
Sarah is particularly excited about a new Ministry of Education contract that will subsidise school visits to the observatory. “Thousands of children will come to the observatory each year. This will open the door to astronomy for children who may or may not have experienced the wonders of the planets and the universe before.”
The Council took over management of the observatory in December 2007 and has contributed $1.9m toward its refurbishment. The observatory will eventually be part of the Council's Museums Trust.

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