The B.M. Birla Planetarium is located along Gandhi Mandapam Road in Kotturpuram, Chennai City, India. Nestled in the Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Center’s Periyar Science and Technology Center campus, Birla Planetarium consists of 8 galleries with approximately 500 exhibits. It was established and inaugurated by then President Ramaswamy Venkataraman on May 11, 1988 in memory of B.M. Birla, a great visionary, futurist and industrialist.
A stone’s throw away from the Guindy National Park in the mostly wooded Adyar-Guindy region called the Green Lungs of Chennai, B.M. Birla Planetarium is considered to be the most modern, state-of-the-art planetarium in India with a multipurpose opto-mechanical GOTO GM II starfield projector. It is accompanied by a special-effects projector and an X-Y table system used to simulate a variety of celestial phenomena.
The structure of the planetarium consists of a hemispherical inner dome that is made of aluminum which stretches to fifteen meters in diameter. An air-conditioned theater that can seat up to two hundred and thirty-six people can also be found inside. The circular hall of fame around the main theater features statues and portraits of famous scientists and various photographs and models of heavenly bodies and celestial planets.
The 360-degree sky theater that was installed in 2009 with the full-dome mirror projection system using a DLP projector is the first in India. This awesome effect was created using the help of Wrap, which is a specially designed software that corrects the curvature while taking care of it. As of 2012, a motion to fund a sum of 1.5 million rupees has been granted by the state government under the Part II Scheme to further modernize Birla Planetarium and install a 6-segment multimedia projection system to incorporate to the theme shows.
A special astronomy course is offered by the Birla Planetarium as well as a night-sky observation time. The inclusive seminar hall and classroom studio is used to hold discussions, lectures and workshops on various topics related to astronomy. The hall is also facilitated by prominent personalities in the field of astronomy.
The sky show includes a virtual reality cosmic show as visitors journey through the Solar System complete with eclipses, comets, Moon phases, the life cycle of stars, and shooting meteors and meteorites. The show also features the sky, the different weather seasons, and the Man on the Moon. The audio-visual show explains the different cosmic phenomena in the most creative and the various aspects of astronomy in a completely air-conditioned environment.
The planetarium also includes other features such as the Science Park which has interactive displays that aids in explaining the wonders of science. The Eco Park also features a multitude of plants and models of animals where nature lovers will be very much interested. Children will have a fun time in Traffic Park with its toy cars and automatic electronic signals that inform its visitors about the latest road safety measures. The Meteorological Observatory, on the other hand features instruments used in determining probable climatic changes. Currently, the planetarium also has the Science on Wheels which is a mobile science presentation about the significance of science.
Every second Saturday of the month at around 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, the planetarium presents a special show for visitors to be able to view the night sky. Organizers and administrators of the planetarium also conduct sky shows every day at different times, delivered in Tamil and English languages. The themes of the program or shows change every three months so make sure you do your research before heading to the planetarium. Visitors can experience learning and fun every day except on national holidays as the Birla Planetarium is open from 10:00 AM until 5:45 PM.