I remember visiting Armagh Planetarium as a child – another lifetime now. I was so impressed then, blown away by all there was to see and loved that experience of finding out more about space and the solar system.
A visit to see family in Northern Ireland over half-term, we had dismal weather one afternoon so decided to go to the planetarium and check out how it had changed.
Entrance is free, you just pay (if you wish) for the shows in their Digital Theatre. We had a look at the show schedule picked the one we fancied and then set off to explore.
There are a few galleries but I have to admit to being a bit disappointed. A lot of the interactive displays weren’t working and some areas looked more than a little tired and in need of a revamp. Son discovered one place where the information on display referencing a future event had already happened – not very good.
We did though discover the largest meteorite in Ireland. You can touch it and at 4.6 billion years old you can’t fail to be more than a bit impressed.
Son quite liked the scale models of the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope. They were quite interesting but not mind blowing. In comparison to other places of this type we’ve seen, it all felt just a bit underwhelming here. It is hard to be overly critical as entrance is free but I would rather pay an entrance charge and have a better experience….
The highlight of our visit was definitely the show in the Digital Theatre. We reclined our seats and gazed up at the massive dome. A great guide talked us through the night sky and showed us what we could expect to find in that area on that evening, should we decide to do a bit of star gazing – I loved that. She talked about some of the myths of star-gazing too which was fascinating. The finale was a film on the ceiling about space – also interesting, the whole experience lasted half an hour or so and was very well done.
The rain had stopped at this point, we decided to go outside and have a stroll around their Astropark. There is a scale model of the universe, you can walk around and through it – interesting to see the “proper” distances between each planet. The whole place though was more than a little unkempt with long grass, some litter and some of the models looked a bit battered and worn.
A mixed day out really. The whole place wasn’t how I remembered and is just a bit lacklustre. It seems like a injection of funding might be needed here, the exhibits definitely need improving and as I said before, paying an entrance fee might help with this. The Planetarium, as far as I know, is the only attraction of its type certainly in Northern Ireland. It has the potential to be really great, it just isn’t right now. Son enjoyed it though, so not a fail.