By Rena Shimaoka
“Please turn off all your phones and devices,” says the presenter.
People in the audience scramble to make sure, then all the lights turn off, and only the white and huge dome can be seen. It’s so quiet and calm. It is like the world is covered with a white cloth, the atmosphere is like crisp and clear air. The presenter projects the city as it is on the screen.
“We can’t see stars very much with the city lights, so let’s turn off all of them.”
Magically he really turns off all the city lights.
“Everybody look,” the presenter says, “you miss these tremendous amounts of stars everyday.”
Then, stars that could not be seen due to the lights of the city appear in the night sky. After that, the presenter continues with the contents.
The Kochi Mirai planetarium opened on July 24th in 2018 , in downtown of Kochi as a part of the Kochi Mirai science center of OTEPIA Kochi library. The purpose of building the planetarium is improving the science education in Kochi, so the planetarium is held only for school groups on weekdays, also it has a special explainer only for school groups, and the planetarium takes very rare types of show. There are four more unique presenters, and they put on shows alternately. Moreover, they don’t depend on recorded movies, so they speak most full 45 minutes in the show. That’s why the number of the viewer of the planetarium is No.1 in Japan,
“Kochi prefecture thought to build a planetarium in Kochi city from more than a decade ago,” one of the presenters, Mr. Harunaga said. “Then finally they made it.”
Today, this planetarium plays an important role in science education, and entertainment in Kochi.
You can enjoy the planetarium for only 500yen per show, and even in such a difficult situation because of the COVID-19, more than 100 people visit there per day. Before the pandemic outbreak, more than double the number visited. However, the number of the audience should be limited, there 80 seats in the hall and only 40 seats available but it remains hugely popular. And because it pays full attention to the virus, there are hand sanitizers and they promote audience to keep social distance.
One of the charms of this planetarium is the planetarium projectors which are used. In this planetarium, two kinds of devices are used, one is called an optical projector, and the other is called a digital projector. The optical projector is bigger than digital projector, and there are two digital projector, because one can show half of the dome. The optical projector can show all 88kinds of zodiac sign, this technology is first technology in the world, and the founder of this company, Mr.Goto who made this company is from Kochi. Digital projector can show smooth movie, these devices are used together in this planetarium so that we can see breathtaking starry sky. You can feel great effort from the planetarium.
There are four special presenters in the planetarium, each presenter does unique shows, and they arrange the contents depending on the audience base and the season. Therefore, even if the content is same, you can enjoy different show the same day.
“I want to make audiences to look up the sky after the show,” said Mr.Harunaga, “because they don’t often look up the sky.”
He always takes audience to the space trip and tell them marvelous space story.
“If it’s getting colder,” he continued. “I will introduce you about the winter constellations.”
Then the content at the season was about the recent return of the asteroid explorer “Hayabusa2” launched in 2014 by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Its mission is to clarify the origin and evolution of solar system as well as life matter. The date of the show was two days before the Hyabua2 delivered the ancient asteroid samples. Many scientists used a lot of exertion for the project.
“Welcome back Hayabusa2,” said Mr. Harunaga, “Hope you had a safe trip.”