Wits Planetarium

The history of the Wits Planetarium begins in the year 1956, when the Festival Committee, instituted to organise the celebrations in that year of the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the city, decided that it would be most fitting to mark the occasion by raising the funds needed to buy and house a Zeiss Planetarium.

Grade

Harmless

Disabled Friendly

Yes

Accommodation

Nearby

Team Building Facilities

Yes

Family Friendly

Yes

  • Category
  • Disabled Friendly
    Yes
  • Accommodation
    Nearby
  • Team Building Facilities
    Yes
  • Family Friendly
    Yes

The history of the Wits Planetarium begins in the year 1956, when the Festival Committee, instituted to organise the celebrations in that year of the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the city, decided that it would be most fitting to mark the occasion by raising the funds needed to buy and house a Zeiss Planetarium.

Since timing was a matter of importance, and since it was soon found that it would not be possible to obtain a new instrument within a period of less than a year, it was decided to try and buy one of the existing instruments in Europe.

With the assistance of the manufacturers, and after prolonged negotiation, the Festival Committee succeeded in inducing the City Council of Hamburg to sell the instrument which had been in use in that city since 1930, on condition that the projector would be fully modernised in the Zeiss factory at Oberkochen, and that a new instrument would in due course be built for Hamburg. History of the Planetarium:
The history of the Wits Planetarium begins in the year 1956, when the Festival Committee, instituted to organise the celebrations in that year of the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the city, decided that it would be most fitting to mark the occasion by raising the funds needed to buy and house a Zeiss Planetarium. Since timing was a matter of importance, and since it was soon found that it would not be possible to obtain a new instrument within a period of less than a year, it was decided to try and buy one of the existing instruments in Europe.

With the assistance of the manufacturers, and after prolonged negotiation, the Festival Committee succeeded in inducing the City Council of Hamburg to sell the instrument which had been in use in that city since 1930, on condition that the projector would be fully modernised in the Zeiss factory at Oberkochen, and that a new instrument would in due course be built for Hamburg.
The Hamburg projector was therefore immediately dismantled and moved to Oberkochen for complete overhaul and, in time, was completely rebuilt, while all the additional apparatus and improvements developed since it was originally built were added. The result – a Zeiss MkIII – was an instrument as modern and complete as any in the world at the time.

In the meantime, however, the responsibilities of the Festival Committee had been taken over by the Johannesburg City Council who, after further negotiations, finally sold the projector to the University of the Witwatersrand for use in the formal instruction of students and as a public amenity for the citizens of Johannesburg and of South Africa in general. Plans for the building were drawn in 1958, and building commenced in 1959.
Finally, the stage had now been reached when the instrument had been installed and adjusted by a team of Zeiss technicians, and the building was on the point of final completion. On 12 October 1960 the first full-sized planetarium in Africa, and the second in the Southern Hemisphere, opened its doors to the public.

Space Travel [5 – 8 year olds]:
In this pre-recorded show we travel with Thomas the astronomer in his “giant rocket” to the game reserve where we learn about:
thee constellations,
Travel to the moon, and on the way learn about moon phases and tides, see what the Apollo astronauts did on the moon,
and briefly visit the planets.
Show Times:
See Diary
Duration:
± 60 min.
Age Group:
5 – 8 year olds

The Secret of the Cardboard Rocket [8 – 12 years olds]:
Experience the wonders of the solar system as we travel on an imaginary journey to all the planets. Fly over Venus, land on the Moon and Mars in our cardboard rocket. There is a short introduction to the current night sky of your visit.
Show Times:
See Diary
Duration:
± 60 min.
Age Group:
8 – 12 year olds

The Sky Tonight [Teenagers & Adults]:
Explore our current night sky as we journey to Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. Did you know there is a butterfly in the Scorpion, a swan in Sagittarius, even a hanger for your coat in the sky? Explore the jewels of our southern sky that you can see with your binoculars or small telescope.
Show Times:
See Diary
Duration:
± 60 min.
Age Group:
Teenagers & Adults

School Shows:
In the Planetarium …
the lights dim slowly, as the stars appear like magic above you. You are about to go on a trip of exploration, to the planets, stars and galaxies of our Universe.
The Planetarium offers educational shows in an exciting setting. Each show lasts approximately one hour. Experienced staff are on hand to answer questions about astronomy.
To organise an outing for your class, please call one of the numbers below. Please note: it is essential to book before visiting.
We are on the Wits University campus, off Yale Road in Milner Park. Parking is available on campus next to the Planetarium.
Admission charges: R24 per person, with free entry for one teacher per 20 students. Payment can be made by Cash, EFT, debit/Credit Card (Visa/ Master Card). No cheques accepted.

Shows are about one hour long and run Tuesday through Friday by appointment (= you need to book).
We require:
• your name and contact details,
• some idea of the date and time you would like to visit,
• name and contact details of the school: phone, fax, PO Box,
• grade of the learners, and number of learners (min. 35) and educators in the group,
• cellphone numbers of three accompanying adults.

Grades R – 3:
Space Travel:
In this pre-recorded show we travel with Thomas the astronomer in his “giant rocket” to the game reserve where we learn about:
thee constellations,
Travel to the moon, and on the way learn about moon phases and tides, see what the Apollo astronauts did on the moon,
and briefly visit the planets and a comet.
Hierdie vertoning is ook beskikbaar in Afrikaans.

Grades 4 – 6:
The Secret of the Cardboard Rocket:
Experience the wonders of the solar system as we travel on an imaginary journey to all the planets. Fly over Venus, land on the Moon and Mars in our cardboard rocket. There is a short introduction to the current night sky of your visit.

Grades 7 – 12:
The Solar System:
In this live presentation we take a look at our Solar System: The Sun, planets, comets and asteroids.
Including:
motions of the Earth and the effects – day & night, Moon phases;
constellations of the night of your visit;
the latest from interplanetary space-craft that are now exploring our family of planets.

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