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Science Meets Fun Under Southern Skies

Press Release from Hermitage Aoraki Mt Cook
11 December 2007

Science Meets Fun Under Southern Skies

A new era of hands-on learning is set to begin as New Zealand’s first full dome digital definiti® planetarium offers students the chance to study for NCEA astronomy.

Three level one astronomy papers from the NCEA science syllabus will be brought to life in the world-class definiti® planetarium and 3D theatre housed in the new Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre at The Hermitage Aoraki Mount Cook.

The Hermitage General Manager Denis Callesen said the Centre’s 3D theatre and planetarium offer the most technologically advanced facilities of this type ever developed in New Zealand.

“The planetarium experience has been revolutionised by the digital age. High-definition video images of all the wonders of 21st century astronomy and astrophysics discovery culminate in an immensely entertaining and informative experience,” he said. “What you see and hear is simply mind blowing, almost too much to take in. It’s an incredibly exciting audio visual experience and an amazing way to take in the immensity of our solar system, then our galaxy and beyond to the far reaches of our known universe.”

“We believe this offers a fantastic opportunity for NCEA level students and we encourage schools to contact us if they’re planning to use this facility next year.”

The papers relevant to the planetarium experience are:
20621- Demonstrate knowledge of space exploration 4 credits Internal
This unit standard is one of a series, intended as an introduction to astronomy. People credited with this unit standard are able to demonstrate knowledge of scientific space missions, a space telescope, the international space station, and at least two zero gravity experiments.
20622 Demonstrate knowledge of our solar system 4 credits Internal
This unit standard is one of a series, intended as an introduction to astronomy. People credited with this unit standard are able to demonstrate knowledge of the Sun as our star, the planets, and other bodies in our solar system.
20623 Demonstrate knowledge of the Milky Way, our galaxy 4 credits Internal
This unit standard is one of a series, intended as an introduction to astronomy. People credited with this unit standard are able to demonstrate knowledge of the structure and location of the Milky Way, and of the place of our solar system in the Milky Way.

Opening from late December, the $7.5 million Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre brings together a state-of-the-art 3D theatre, New Zealand’s first full dome digital definiti® planetarium and a comprehensive museum that weaves the story of Kiwi endeavour and achievement in the Aoraki Mt Cook region.

About the Planetarium
The dome was manufactured in Ohio, USA by Astro-Tec, the company who made the dome for Auckland’s Stardome Observatory. It was then shipped to New Zealand and reassembled by an Astro-Tec technician.

Nine metres in diameter, 4.5 metres high and weighing in at 1.3 tonnes, the dome is all aluminium. The screen is perforated to allow the delivery of 5:1 surround sound, essential for the unrivalled immersive experience.

About The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre
The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is designed to be the place to go and feel at one with New Zealand’s most famous New Zealander. It also encompasses and records the stories of early pioneers reaching the area, summiting one of the world’s most difficult peaks and establishing what is today a flourishing climbing and tourism culture.

At the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, New Zealanders will feel a sense of cultural belonging and international people will experience the culture and man that Sir Edmund represents.

The Hermitage at Aoraki Mount Cook is an integral part of New Zealand’s tourism history. It lies within a World Heritage Wilderness Area and looks out to the majestic Aoraki Mount Cook surrounded by the silent splendour of the Southern Alps.

Aoraki Mount Cook is an iconic, must visit destination for New Zealanders and international visitors. In 2006 it was voted number 6 on the 101 Must-Do’s for Kiwis in the nationwide AA Travel domestic travel survey.

Make the journey and be amazed!

ENDS

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