Across the street from the Beijing Zoo, in between the Zoo Market and the Dinosaur Museum is the curved glass building of the Beijing Planetarium. Just like the Capital Museum, it’s a modern glass structure and the inside mirrors its modern exterior. Our trip to the Planetarium included a meeting with the Director and a picture in the front of the main building.
With China’s recent steps into space flight and exploration, it’s no wonder that admission to the Planetarium is increasing. It also helps that the place is outfitted with all the latest technologies to popularize space science.
We were taken through the main lobby of the Planetarium and the many display rooms. Projectors light up the black walls with celestial swirls and every few seconds or so “shooting stars” flash over your head. It’s a surreal sight. After only living in Beijing for two months, and being deprived of stars, I almost forgot what they looked like.
The Planetarium houses three observatories, a SGI theatre, a 3D/4D theatre, and Space Centre with a giant curved screen, perfect for projecting the night sky. We got a chance to experience the Space Centre. Sitting in slightly inclined seats, you tilt your head back and all you see is one huge blanket of white. Since the screen is curved, even in your peripherals you will get stars. Approximately 9,000 stars visible to the naked eye are projected on the screen and the entire visual was beyond breathtaking. The entire screen moved, twinkled and exploded each way I looked.
Described as a “Palace for Science,” the Beijing Planetarium once was the only planetarium in Asia. However, it is still ranked for its advanced technology and exhibits, such as the Meteorite Hall. Feature behind glass tubes, visitors can look through pieces from asteroids and the Moon! This exhibition was quite popular with the crowds of high school students visiting that time.
If you are looking to learn more about this fascinating field of science, or just simply missing the stars in Beijing, this is the perfect place to venture to.