Multi-million-crown projector becomes new star attraction at Prague Planetarium

The Prague Planetarium has gone digital. On Saturday, the attraction unveiled a new, state-of-the-art, projection system, which allows onlookers to witness the skies as they were hundreds of years ago. Earlier today, I paid a visit to the Planetarium in the capital’s Stromovka Park to talk to technical director Jan Šifner about the site’s newest attraction:

“We have a completely new projection system from September. It is a digital system and it is installed in our 23-metre dome. It is special from a Czech perspective, because it is the first such digital system in the Czech Republic.”

And am I right in thinking that you can even look at the skies as they were in the past, hundreds of years ago, if you so chose?

The Planetarium in Prague's Stromovka Park
“Yes, this is true. Because this is a real time machine, and it is even possible to call this a gate to the stars – Stargate – because each planetarium is a time machine. It is possible to shift you back through time or to the future. And, of course, our new digital system is able to transport you to another set of stars, for instance.”

I know that this machine cost you a great deal of money – why would you put something like 25 million crowns into a piece of machinery like this?

“The cost of the system was indeed 25 million crowns, but I must say that the new system itself only cost 22 million and the rest was work which was necessary to do here before installation.”

So, this will attract tourists and visitors from Prague, but does it have a scientific purpose, will you as a scientist be using this to further your knowledge of the skies?

“I think that it is not possible to use this directly for science. It is only to inform people about scientific results.”

… So it is a good way of presenting results you have already gathered?

“Yes, it is for the presentation of these results.”

Obviously, the Planetarium is a long-standing Prague attraction, but for residents of this city, there must be some other places, out of doors, where you can go and look at the stars. Can you recommend any places that are particularly good for stargazing?

“In Prague, the light pollution is relatively high, but it is more or less the same as in other large European cities. The best conditions for astronomical observations are on the outskirts of Prague.”

For more information on the Prague Planetarium, visit the attraction’s website: