The Importance Of Local Digital Dome Content In South Africa

Astronomy education around the world
2nd Shaw-IAU Workshop
Thursday Oct. 8, 2020
UTC: 2:10 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.

Despite the major strides that South Africa has made into innovative astronomical research in recent decades, school students and
the general public remain largely unaware of these impressive developments or their significance. Due to the immersive nature and
unique capabilities of modern planetaria, they are often effective and accessible tools to expose and educate a diverse range of
people about astronomy and other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Therefore, the IDIA
Visualisation Lab in collaboration with the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome (IPDD) has made it a primary goal in recent years to
update old-fashioned preconceptions about planetaria, and to provide an up-to-date, modern window into the local scientific
research world, including recent South African astronomical achievements.

With this goal in mind, current IPDD projects include the pioneering use of the dome space to visualise and interact with large
multidisciplinary research datasets (as part of the Data2Dome initiative), a locally-produced full-dome film that celebrates South
African astronomy achievements and innovative research into the effective use of the planetarium as an educational tool in schools
and undergraduate studies. In the current political and economic climate of the country, we hope that by producing local digital
dome content (through locally produced films and research work), we can create a greater sense of pride in the country’s scientific
achievements and therefore work toward harnessing a more positive and understanding social environment.

About Sally MacFarlane

Dr Sally Macfarlane (NAEC South Africa chair) is currently working as a post-doctoral fellow and part-time lecturer in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Cape Town. The prime purpose of her post-doc is to work with the IDIA Visualisation Laboratory to explore the immersive visualisation of scientific data within the digital dome environment, specifically using the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome in Cape Town. As an energetic supporter of science engagement and the development of South African Astrotourism, she also works as a part-time planetarium presenter and educator. Through her post-doctoral work and the production of a full-length locally produced planetarium film, she aims to promote the importance of local digital dome content in order to popularise and expose South Africa's many impressive artistic and scientific achievements.

Watch a recording of this talk (external link)