Katara – the Cultural Village has inaugurated its high-tech and first-of-its-kind planetarium, the Al Thuraya Dome, on December 18, which coincided with the Qatar National Day celebrations,

Occupying 2,240sq m area, Katara’s prominent project at building 45 is the first and largest astronomical dome in the country and one of the main attractions at the cultural village.

Katara general manager Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti led the inauguration of the planetarium, considered a significant achievement for Qatar, in a ceremony attended by several dignitaries, diplomats, and guests.

“The planetarium will take visitors in a journey around the galaxies of the universe in a simplified manner that fits children and adults in two languages, English and Arabic”, Dr al-Sulaiti said in a press statement.

Dr al-Sulaiti noted that residents, visitors and young students will find it interesting to learn about astronomy with the astronomical dome’s numerous interactive features, which suit all age groups.

The planetarium has information on Earth Science, containing over 200 unique data sets in five categories: astronomy, atmosphere, geology and the oceans. PICTURES: Ram Chand

He said Katara is eager to educate young children and students with various cultural and scientific fields “to diversify their knowledge and understanding.”

Al Thuraya Dome planetarium project CEO Mohamed al-Meer said: the project is a mutual effort between Qatar and Oman which contributed in establishing this educational minaret.

“It is open to assist students and even companies working in this field in their activities and research,” he added.

According to Katara, students, families and astronomy enthusiasts will have a rare experience at the planetarium as it blends education and entertainment.

Some 200 people can sit at the planetarium hall, the main component of the building, comprising of four slots for people with disabilities and another four for the elderly. It also has a 22metre screen, equipped with state-of-the-art digital projectors, featuring 2D and 3D tutorial shows.

The planetarium is named after the Thuraya (Seven Sisters), a cluster of seven bright stars (the Pleiades M45).

Katara noted that this cluster was known since prehistoric times, cited by ancient astronomers several times, and had a significant status among ancient Arabs.

The planetarium also has a unique platform suitable for events and activities, featuring a vast terrace overlooking the sea.

Digistar, its operating system, can process 3D illustrations, which is projected onto the dome’s main screen, using a one-of-its-kind tool. Its live streaming feature, known as domecasting, enables other similar theatres and domes in the world which are equipped with the same system to broadcast live presentations between each other.

Such capability allows other galleries to meet and watch live performances and experiment simultaneously, including live presentations in the dome.

In addition, Katara noted that the planetarium also has information on Earth Science, containing over 200 unique data sets in five categories: astronomy, atmosphere, geology and the oceans, including more than 25 terrestrial weather data, solar data sets and a number of awareness presentations by professional trainers.

The dome also houses a museum, which displays astronomical objects and history such as the splitting of the moon in the era of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and a number of models of the planets of the solar system in various sizes, in addition to models of space shuttles and astronauts’ suits.

Katara earlier announced that it signed an agreement with the Oman Oil Development Company in November 2017 to train Qatari youths in the field of planetarium and managing astronomy domes.

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