One of Wits' highest-profile Centenary projects is to transform the 61-year-old Wits Planetarium, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, into a full-dome interactive digital system.
The Wits Digital Dome project aims to create a visualization laboratory able to embrace the data-driven era within an iconic Centenary landmark. This will broaden its role well beyond astronomy; re-imagine its potential on a 21st Century campus; and enable unparalleled community engagement.
The Wits Digital Dome
Seeing the unseeable
Throughout history, humans have sought to understand themselves and their universe aided by imagery. From early cave paintings, we have pushed our technological ability to image the unseeable, from the double-helix structure of our DNA to a portrait of a black hole millions of light-years away. In the modern age, visualization of another kind of ‘unseeable’ has become fundamentally important. Humans seek to identify hidden patterns in multi-dimensional datasets to tease out complex relationships in everything from biological systems, human behaviour, and the myriad particle showers in enormous atom-smashers that recreate the conditions in the early universe. An interactive experience with the creation, recording, and interpretation of imagery is a distinctly human activity across all disciplines that has transformed our grasp of the cosmos and ourselves, as well as our ability to communicate complex ideas to one another.
A Multi-disciplinary Vision
From digital art to artificial intelligence visualisation, particle accelerators to cosmic explosions, the vision is to transform the Planetarium into a cutting-edge digital facility, while building on its proud history as an unique science engagement venue.
Building on a Legacy
For over 60 years, the Wits Planetarium, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, has had a significant impact on the University and the broader community, with children and parents travelling from neighbouring provinces to experience celestial wonders. Modernizing the Planetarium to a full-dome, real-time, interactive digital system will broaden this beyond astronomy, and re-imagine its important role on a 21st Century campus that actively embraces the 4th Industrial Revolution. The Digital will provide world-class postgraduate training opportunities across a plethora of disciplines, from the natural sciences through to the arts, and the many connections in between. Transforming the Planetarium into a Digital Dome will provide a state-of-the-art platform to communicate research through greatly enriched community engagement.
Far beyond just showcasing the wonders of the cosmos, the Digital Dome will have broad impact across many disciplines, enabled by cutting-edge technology and building on a multi-generational legacy.
If you or your organization are interested in contributing to the Planetarium's upgrade, please visit the Centenary Campaign site, or contact the Director of the Development and Fundraising Office, Peter Bezuidenhout, or Chair of the Digital Dome Working Group, Prof Roger Deane.
Every single amount, no matter how small, will help with this vision and continue the legacy into the next 60 years. We also would welcome in-kind contributions in a wide variety of forms, please reach out for more information.
Benefits to Donors:
Socio-Economic Development (SED) points
Section 18A Tax Deductions