WHAT DO OUR PRESENT AND THE SIXTIES OF THE LAST CENTURY HAVE IN COMMON?
Do you remember how it all started? When you first came with your mother, holding her hand firmly, in this unusual place. In the Star Hall, you were enchanted by the silver lights on the dark dome, which were so similar to the real night sky and seemed so close that you could grasp them. Remember yourself, an inquisitive child who bought a huge star map here, placed it by his bed and looked at unknown constellations every night. Remember your happy birthday, when you and your friends created a rocket or Mars rover during a master class, or observed the planets and stars using a telescope on the platform… Here you became immersed in astronomy forever. Here is your Planetarium, where everyone writes our space history!
Dnipro Planetarium after the opening, 1969
1968… Back then the opening of the institution, where people would learn about astronomical objects, was an extraordinary event, because the middle of the XX century was a time when mankind took first steps towards conquering the space: the first flights of animals into space, the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite and the first human travelling beyond the Earth's atmosphere.
The space had already been not a dream but a reality, and on the wave of the popularity of astronomy in then Dnepropetrovsk, the Planetarium was opened - a unique scientific space, the technical capabilities of which allowed viewers to expand the picture of the universe here and now. The starry sky, planetary motion, and celestial events were displayed using the “Planetarium” projector made by Carl Zeiss Jena in a Star Hall on a dome with a diameter of 12 meters. Visitors could see the solar eclipse for the first time, learn and observe all the phases of the Moon and listen to the ancient legends associated with the constellations.
The Lecturer Lyudmyla Marchenko at work, 1975
In the 1970s and 1980s, lecturers did not have computers and free access to the Internet; therefore, the information was obtained using the books from the Planetarium's space library. There was material, but what about pictures? The Lecturer Lyudmyla Marchenko, who has been working here since 1975, recalls the preparation for the programs: “A few years after the opening we wanted to tell more details about the Universe, and the Planetarium projector was not enough for that. The dynamism of the story was added by special pictures shown by a slide projector. Lecturers selected the material and made their slides in a photo studio."
The virtual Universe was reproduced in the Star Theater of the Planetarium, and nearby, in the yard, you had an opportunity to look at the real-life celestial bodies through a telescope. Indeed, such observations are still of great interest, especially when rare celestial events occur - approaching of a bright comet, eclipses or planetary transits.
Dnipro Planetarium, 1985
Since the 1980s, none of the cosmic phenomena have avoided the attention of astronomy enthusiasts! And the biggest excitement was caused by the fall of the Levi-Shoemaker comet on Jupiter - then the whole area in front of the Planetarium was full of people who wanted to see this event with their own eyes.
Amateur astronomy became the hallmark of the Planetarium. Back in the early 80's, lecturer Tamara Vykhrestyuk organized an astronomical club "Orion" for high school students. Later it grew into an amateur astroclub. While celestial bodies could be observed using only small telescopes, the club members and their leaders regularly visited scientific observatories in Ukraine - Crimea, Kharkiv, Odessa, where they could see the work of astronomers.
Technology became more sophisticated. A video camera was installed in the lobby and further the audience got an opportunity to see themselves in the Star Theater… Yes, at that time it was very creative and exciting. The first computers appeared in the early 2000s, so it became much easier for lecturers to select the necessary material and create video presentations. It allowed them to expand the variety of shows and adapt them for different age groups.
The first cosmonaut of Ukraine Leonid Kadenyuk in the Dnipro Planetarium, 2008
The Planetarium, like a magnet, attracts interesting and unique personalities. Since its opening, it has had seven directors, and each has sought to promote the institution among the scientific community: some were the first to bring astronomers to work at the Planetarium, some made lectures available not only in the Star Theater but also in the city enterprises and factories. There were leaders who were able to maintain the institution as a cultural and educational center in difficult economic conditions. For many years the Planetarium has employed people of different specialties: physicist, geographer, biologist, historian, manager, philologist, and, surprisingly, only two astronomers - Tamara Pavlovna Vykhrestyuk and Lyudmila Alekseevna Marchenko. The team had friendly relations with scientific institutions in Amsterdam, Poitiers and Sofia. These were usually casual meetings: people saw the dome, came to say hello - and got acquainted. And in 2008, the Planetarium was lucky to meet the first cosmonaut of Ukraine - Leonid Kadenyuk.