Armagh Observatory & Planetarium
Science Communications, Visitor Attractions
For so many of us, exploring worlds beyond our reach, beyond the stars, is simply a dream. So, to have historic visitor attractions like Armagh Observatory & Planetarium that facilitate journeys beyond the Earth’s atmosphere for people of all ages, is something to truly behold.
Armagh Observatory & Planetarium is the longest running planetarium in the British Isles. The planetarium was opened in 1968 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, so when they approached us to help them with their recent refresh of the exhibition space; we couldn’t wait to be part of it.
Education and Outreach Manager, Sinead Mackle had a vision for the refurbishment – to modernise the space, really amplify the visitor experience with inspiring moments of interaction throughout, and to create long lasting memories that spark curiosity about space. We knew the combination of scientific data, information on space, and the desire to engage and inspire would suit our world-class solutions, like Saturn suits its name… it has a nice RING to it after all ;)
With the existing floor plan of the exhibition space remaining, Armagh Observatory & Planetarium knew they needed a centre piece for the area. They wanted something that would be suitable for children and adults alike, something that was intuitive, accessible for those with additional needs, and something that also offered multi-sensory exploration.
Our PufferTouch® displays make breath-taking additions to any venue; They draw crowds, and engage people of all ages with their touch-activating applications. We knew our most powerful in the PufferTouch® range, the PufferTouch2+ would be ideal for Armagh, as the 4K UHD projection would ensure that even with additional lighting and additional display screens in the space, content would remain clear and super bright for audiences.
We also decided that the latest in the range, the PT2+ Mobile – with its wheels for easy mobility, and quick assembly – would be the best fit. There would be no compromise on quality, and with the addition of wheels, it meant the system could be moved to other spaces in the venue for events, presentations and other outreach activities.
The final piece of the puzzle was then screen size. Our PufferTouch® range comes in 600mm and 760mm, optimal sizes for projection quality and to ensure full 360• projection at all times. Armagh felt like they wanted something larger, something that would really stand out amongst other technology, and something that would truly spark the imagination of children upon the first glance. It was agreed to make a custom screen for the space, at 900mm, to transform the astronomical information, and to truly take on the role of planets in our solar system.
Education and outreach are so key to engaging future generations, and to ensuring the love and understanding for our planet and worlds beyond, continues. We knew having the right application with the right content, and the right levels of interactivity, was imperative for the space to really come together.
Pufferfish offer a range of original applications off-the-shelf, which offer easy access to studio-quality content that can be used as they are, or customised to meet specific requirements and focuses. One of those applications is Interstellar - a highly dynamic piece of content that combines 360• animations, audio, intuitive UX/UI interfaces, and takes audiences on a sensory journey around the Milky Way.
From the Sun, right the way through to Pluto, Interstellar allows users to engage with scientific information on the planets in our Galaxy, and uncover visual media with its slick touch interactivity. It offers pinch zoom, and many more interactive features that ensure otherwise complex information is unforgettable, understandable, and a fun experience to absorb.
The overall project was an absolute success, even in the face of the pandemic. Armagh Observatory & Planetarium have curated a space that stimulates all the senses, that stimulates the mind, and inspires all ages to engage with worlds beyond Earth. The PT2+ Mobile is surrounded by external displays, and with bright, eye-catching content filling up the space, it’s an immersive environment that blends the line between education and entertainment.
Sinead Mackle, Education and Outreach Manager at Armagh Observatory & Planetarium said: “We are over the moon to announce our reopening. The team and our suppliers have been working hard to get the Planetarium ready and we are really looking forward to welcoming visitors back... With more people staying local this summer, we are anticipating a really busy season.”
We want to thank all involved in this project, from Sinead and her team at Armagh Observatory & Planetarium, to Liam McArdle who captured the assets.
It’s been an experience of truly intergalactic proportions!