Birla Planetarium in Calcutta Reopens

Largest planetarium in India continues its educational work using ZEISS technology

JENA/Germany, 2017-07-20.

Following an extensive restoration, the Birla Planetarium in Calcutta reopened on 18 July 2017. Originally built 55 years ago, the planetarium has a 23 m dome and is now equipped with ZEISS STARMASTER VELVET hybrid planetarium technology. The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, officially reopened India's largest planetarium together with the Mayor of Calcutta, Sovan Chatterjee. The Chief Minister recalled the first time she first visited the Birla Planetarium as a child: "Since that day I was fascinated by space science and astronomy." She is convinced that “students from every school must visit the place.”

The hybrid system comprises a ZEISS STARMASTER optical-mechanical planetarium projector in combination with a ZEISS VELVET 360° video projection system. The STARMASTER replaces the ZEISS projector from 1962. The 9,100 stars normally only visible to the naked eye under the best of conditions now come to life at different brightness levels. The quality of the artificial night sky was particularly important to the Birla Planetarium. The video system consists of nine ZEISS VELVET projectors. The nine partial images produce a seamless, dazzling display on the dome of the planetarium with 20 million pixels. The VELVET technology from ZEISS enables the smooth overlapping of stars with images of astronomical objects such as astronomical grids, nebulas and galaxies. The joint control system ensures that the optical-mechanical night sky and digital video projection are always in sync. "The renovation of the Birla Planetarium is a really special project for ZEISS and our local partner, the company Orbit Animate," says Dr. Martin Wiechmann, Head of the Planetariums business unit at ZEISS. "A trust-based collaboration of many years has yielded a modern planetarium whose daily educational work will delight millions of young people and encourage them to focus on science."

Modernizing the Birla Planetarium has made it possible to present content in completely new ways. Now visitors can take a virtual journey, leaving the earth and flying through the solar system and out beyond the Milky Way. Astronomy will be the focus of the planetarium in the future, but, thanks the new technology, programs on other scientific and cultural topics will also be on offer. With half a million visitors every years, most of them students, the Birla Planetarium is one of the world's most frequently visited planetariums.

Birla Planetarium in Calcutta reopened with ZEISS technology


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Gudrun Vogel,
Phone: +49 3641 64-2770
gudrun .vogel @zeiss .com


ZEISS is an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the fields of optics and optoelectronics. The ZEISS Group develops, produces and distributes measuring technology, microscopes, medical technology, eyeglass lenses, camera and cinema lenses, binoculars and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. With its solutions, the company constantly advances the world of optics and helps shape technological progress. ZEISS is divided up into the four segments Research & Quality Technology, Medical Technology, Vision Care/Consumer Products and Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology. The ZEISS Group is represented in more than 40 countries and has over 50 sales and service locations, more than 30 manufacturing sites and about 25 research and development centers around the globe.

In fiscal year 2015/16 the company generated revenue approximating €4.9 billion with over 25,000 employees. Founded in 1846 in Jena, the company is headquartered in Oberkochen, Germany. Carl Zeiss AG is the strategic management holding company that manages the ZEISS Group. The company is wholly owned by the Carl Zeiss Stiftung (Carl Zeiss Foundation).

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Consumer Optics

The Consumer Optics business group combines the company's business with camera and movie lenses, binoculars, spotting scopes, hunting optics, virtual reality headsets and planetarium technology. The business group is represented at sites in Oberkochen, Wetzlar and Jena. The business group is allocated to the Vision Care/ Consumer Products segment. In fiscal year 2015/16 the segment generated revenue of €1.1 billion with around 9,300 employees.

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