Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hailed the plans as a “perfect fit” for the city, which he said is on the “astronomical highway” to both the nearby Parkes radio telescope and Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran.
A planetarium is an auditorium where images of stars and planets can be projected onto the ceiling, offering a unique experience to visitors and schoolchildren.
The new development is part of a larger $33.5 million centre that also includes a 275-seat traditional auditorium and 40 practice studios and rehearsal spaces for the performing arts.
“A conservatorium and a planetarium – this place truly will be full of stars,” said PM Albanese.
“This will be a major boost to the cultural life of Orange. I’m delighted that the government I have the privilege of leading has joined forces with the New South Wales government to invest in it. I look forward to the opening.”
The project is funded by the federal government with $10 million, $5 million from the state government, and up to $18.5 million from the Orange City Council.
Already, construction fences have been erected around the site in the North Court, on the corner of March and Peisley streets, behind the Civic precinct.
Site preparation and earthworks have started this week to remove topsoil and level the site ahead of excavations for the building’s foundations.
At its peak, it’s projected there will be 50–60 people working on the site, with between 500 to 700 individuals working on the project at different times.
The planetarium will seek to capitalise on interest in the nearby Parkes telescope, which has been in operation since 1961.
Known as the Murriyang radio telescope, it operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year and is operated by CSIRO, the Australian government agency responsible for scientific research.
Over its lifetime, it’s been responsible for a string of breakthroughs.
In June last year, for example, Space Connect reported how scientists using it found the strongest evidence yet for low-frequency gravitational waves – better known as ripples in the fabric of space-time.
The work by Dr Daniel Reardon and Dr Andrew Zic backed up Einstein’s theory that space-time is a four-dimensional fabric that can be affected by events such as exploding stars and merging black holes.
Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.
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