50th Anniversary

Planetarium 1988

50th Anniversary Celebrations at QVMAG, Inveresk

QVMAG is celebrating 50 years of the Launceston Planetarium with a week of activities.

Details below. 

Planetarium Shows
29 January - 2 February, 11am, 1pm, 3pm.
See here for show titles and here for conditions and fees. The first 100 children to attend a Planetarium show get a free show bag! 

Solar Observation in the QVMAG Inveresk Courtyard
30 January - 2 February, 2pm however time may vary according to weather.
Safely observe the sun and look for sunspots through one of our telescopes, with the assistance of Planetarium staff.

Total lunar eclipse photo competition
A total lunar eclipse will occur on 31 January. Totality begins at 11:52pm. Get your telescopes out and your cameras: we're asking amateur stargazers to take a snap of the eclipse and tag us on Facebook with #qvmageclipsecomp2018. Entrants will go in to the draw to win a pair of binoculars! Watch our Facebook page for more details. 

Space Talks
30 January - 2 February, 12-12.30pm, Free entry but please note places are limited. 

30 January
Josh Richards, Mars One Candidate
Q&A: Ask A Future Martian
Via Skype, Josh will discuss with the audience his fascinating scientific work plus possible trip to Mars. Planetarium Manager Martin George will MC the event.

Physicist, Explosives Engineer, Soldier, Comedian, Astronaut Candidate – one thing Josh Richards can never be accused of is being boring. After a decade of picking up booby traps with the Australian Army, slogging through mud with British Commandos, being science adviser to the richest artist in the world, and performing comedy wearing a giant koala suit to confused audiences around the world, Josh found his true calling in September 2012 when he discovered the Mars One project. Selected from over 200,000 initial applicants, Josh is currently one of 100 astronaut candidates short-listed for a one-way mission to Mars in 2031.

31 January
Tanya Hill, Senior Curator of Astronomy at Museums Victoria and Manager of the Melbourne Planetarium
Come see the stars - celebrating Australia's planetaria
Australians are fascinated by the stars. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people of all ages visit planetariums across the country. There’s nothing like a starry night sky that lifts us up out of the humdrum of everyday life. And with today’s modern planetaria we can truly experience the immense beauty of the universe as if we are travelling amongst those stars. Every day, brings new insights into the objects that fill the universe and their workings. We are so fortunate to have these unique venues to share those discoveries with everyone.

Dr Tanya Hill joined Museums Victoria in 1999 and was part of the team that opened the Melbourne Planetarium at Scienceworks. She has drawn on her background in astronomy research to create award-winning planetarium shows. These shows are screened in planetariums around Australia and throughout the world. Tanya is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne and the Astronomical Society of Australia. She also represents Australia as part of the European Southern Observatory’s Science Outreach Network. Tanya was scared of the dark when she was young – strange beginnings for an astronomer. It was her Dad who showed her the stars and she’s been looking up, unafraid, ever since. 

1 February
Associate Professor Alan Duffy, astrophysicist at Swinburne University
Making Darkness Visible
Via Skype, Professor Duffy will discuss his research and how it relates to telescopes and the SABRE dark matter detector under construction in Australia.

Alan Duffy's work involves creating baby universes on supercomputers to understand how galaxies like our Milky Way form and grow within vast halos of invisible dark matter. He is attempting to find this dark matter as part of SABRE, the world’s first dark matter detector in the Southern Hemisphere.. Alan is also an Associate Investigator in two ARC Centres of Excellence investigating the origin of matter (CAASTRO-3D) and seeing the Universe with gravitational waves (OzGrav). When not exploring simulated universes Alan lectures in physics as well as science communication at Swinburne University of Technology. You might have caught Alan discussing breaking science on ABC News Breakfast TV, ABC Radio, Ten's The Project  or Nine's Today Weekends.

2 February
Marc Duldig, Honorary Research Associate at University of Tasmania
Particles from Space – What have the sun and Antarctica got to do with them? 
Marc will explain the miraculous nature of particles and how they make up everything - and us!

Dr Marc Duldig completed his BSc at Monash University in 1974 before coming to Tasmania for 1 year to do Honours in X-ray astronomy. He is still here. He completed a PhD in X-ray and Radio Astronomy at Tas Uni whilst also commencing employment as a cosmic ray physicist with the Australian Antarctic Division. When he retired in 2011 he was Senior Principal Research Scientist and Program Leader of the Australian Antarctic Space and Atmospheric Sciences program. Marc is Secretary of the Astronomical Society of Australia and a past President of the Australian Institute of Physics. He has been a member of numerous national and international committees and has published over 100 refereed journal articles and a similar number of other papers. Throughout his career Marc has been an honorary researcher and lecturer in physics at the Uni of Tas and has also had a long engagement in many roles with Christ College at the university.

A History of the Planetarium

The Launceston Planetarium is the southernmost planetarium in Australia, and Tasmania's only planetarium.

Since 1968, visitors from near and far have marveled at the universe and discovered the galaxy in Planetarium shows. 

Have a look back at the history of the Planetarium here:

Planetarium key dates   

1955 QVMAG begins proposals to have a planetarium.
1961, 13 April QVMAG Director Frank Ellis formally recommends to the Town Clerk that a Planetarium be installed at QVMAG.
1965, 19-20 October Zeiss ZKP1 projector displayed at the Sydney Trade Fair.  Mr Heinz Letsch, from Zeiss, was present. It was subsequently purchased (with an agreement possibly having been made at the trade fair itself)  by the Adult Education Department in Hobart, and assembled in November 1965 in the old State Library Building in Hobart for a short period.
1967, 4 July Adult Education Board in Hobart formally approves the projector and 6-metre temporary dome to be  'transferred' to QVMAG for two years.
1968, 30 January Opening Day of the Planetarium at QVMAG.  Planetarium uses linen transportable dome, 6m in diameter, with 32 seats. It was set up in the 'Watercolour Gallery', which is now Gallery 7 at Royal Park. Shows were run at 11:00 and 15:00.  Jonathan Swift was the Planetarium's first operator.  The Planetarium's ZKP1 projector was in operation until 29 February, 2008.
1968, 14 November QVMAG director Frank Ellis requests that the Director of Adult Education confirm that the present projector would remain available until Launceston was provided with another one. (Sometime in 1968, it was agreed that the projector be at QVMAG on an 'indefinite loan', but the exact date of that particular agreement is uncertain.)
1968-69 Building work on new Theatrette and Planetarium commenced; this was completed in 1969-70.
1970, February Tasmanian State Government provides funding for $4300 for a permanent dome.  It was made of fibreglass and  built by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, at Fishermen's Bend, Victoria.  It is still in use today.
1971, April Planetarium with original linen dome closed and Projector installed in new Planetarium room.
1978, May Gordon Saunders runs first shows ('after a period of lapse due to staff changes').
1983, 14 March Martin George (then President of the Astronomical Society of Tasmania) commences work as Curator of Physical Sciences, and therefore as astronomer at the Planetarium.
1983, 13 April Planetarium shows recommence.  Initially, shows are run on weekdays only.
1983 Planetarium named 'The Launceston Planetarium'.
1991, 16 January Planetarium conducts public observation of an annular solar eclipse, with the Moon leaving a ring of the Sun's disc still visible at mid-eclipse. This was the first central solar eclipse from Launceston since 30 July 1916, and there will not be another until 25 January 2354. (The most recent total solar eclipse for Launceston was on 7 October 1782, and the next total for Launceston will be on 11 October 2675.)
2008, 29 February Planetarium runs final show in the Royal Park building, to a full audience.
2008-2009 Planetarium, including its original fibreglass dome, is moved to its new site at Inveresk.
2009, 3 February Planetarium takes delivery of a Zeiss ZKP3 star projector, purchased from the Stardome Planetarium in Auckland, New Zealand.
2009, 12 October  Planetarium reopens at the new site at Inveresk, using fulldome video technology in addition to the Zeiss projector.   The first fulldome video show is entitled 'Dawn of the Space Age', which is still popular as at 2017.
2012 Southern Skies exhibition, featuring Tasmanian astronomy, opens in the gallery in front of the Planetarium.
2018, 30 January Planetarium celebrates the 50th anniversary of its 1968 opening.