Planetarium of Nantes
South facade of Nantes Planetarium seen from Square Moisan
|Established||June 18, 1981|
|Visitors||25,000 (2012)50,000 (2018)|
The Planetarium of Nantes is located on the right bank of the Loire, on the "Butte Sainte-Anne", at the number 8 of the "Rue des Acadiens", in the Square Moisan, in the neighborhood "Bellevue - Chantenay - Sainte-Anne", near the Jules Verne Museum.
The Planetarium of Nantes can not be visited as a museum, it offers commented sessions of about an hour (as in the cinema but live). Each session, scheduled according to a schedule established in advance, is adapted to a certain type of public, according to the age or the level of knowledge.
Under a dome 8 meters (26 ft) in diameter, it can accommodate 51 spectators and accommodate about 50,000 visitors per year, school or the general public.
In the lobby, there are three large meteorites (36 kg or 79 lbs for the heaviest) that the public can touch, showcases exposing several fragments of various types of meteorites, models putting various robots in situation on the soil of Mars, Venus, the Moon, Titan (moon of Saturn) and on a comet, planetary globes, rockets, the International Space Station, probes like Juno (around Jupiter) or Hubble (the space telescope) and James Webb Telescope ( his replacement) and other rovers.
The planetarium of Nantes also has a shop offering models of rockets, postcards in "3D", mobile maps of the sky, real meteorites, some introductory books and various gadgets. The planetarium of Nantes is also equipped with a mobile planetarium (inflatable structure 5 to 6 meters in diameter and 3 meters high) designed especially for the introduction to astronomy for use in schools, colleges and high schools. and associations. It also offers rental of various exhibitions and models.
The Planetarium of Nantes also weaves a network among the local actors like the Laboratory of planetology of the University of Nantes, the Museum of natural history, the science and environment pole Sequoia, the Society of Astronomy of Nantes, the association "Meridienne" , and many others, all working in the field of research or scientific mediation including astronomy.
In 1979, the City of Nantes decided to build a planetarium. At that time, in France, there is only one large planetarium: that of Paris (at the "Palais de la découverte"), and 3 small 6 meters: Reims, ENAC Toulouse and Cholet. That of Nantes will be built on the upper part of Square Moisan (abandoned at this time).
Opened to the public on June 18, 1981, the planetarium is equipped with a Carl Zeiss projector, model ZKP2 identical to that of Reims, Nimes (which will open a year later) and Marseille (which will burn quickly).
Between 1999 and 2000, the City of Nantes expanded the premises with two offices of 9m2 (97 ft2), which allows to expand the lobby and install some models and collections of meteorites.
5 years later, in the autumn of 2005, for approximately 480,000 euros, the opto-mechanical projector Zeiss is replaced by a digital type installation and the City of Nantes has offered its former planetary Zeiss at the National University of Córdoba (Argentina ). At that time, there were only 3 planetariums in France using Evans & Sutherland's Digistar II fisheye (Vaulx-en-Velin, Pleumeur-Bodou and Toulouse), and Saint-Étienne experimenting with multi-video projectors. Nantes is the first planetarium in the world, to install five video projectors (to cover the entire vault) DLP type in a medium dome.
Since the 1990s, some pioneers have been developing digital installations to replace opto-mechanical star projectors. Digital installations consist of installing video projectors in the dome, computers and software (astronomical simulator) to reconstruct the observable Universe from astronomical catalogs constructed by astronomers, such as Hipparcos (about 120,000 positioned stars). This makes it possible to move in a universe volume in three dimensions, in real time or to "travel" in time. If the simulator is well built, it can also travel from planets to planets and land there.
In the fall of 2013, the Nantes Planetarium closed for refurbishment work: change of video projectors, computers and software for around 500,000 euros. These two months of closure to the public have refreshed the chairs, redo the painting of the dome and re-arrange the lobby of the public.
As a result of the transformation of the urban community into Metropole, it becomes a metropolitan facility between January 2015 and January 2016.
Almost 40 years after its opening and despite a new dynamic instilled by its new director: a third scientific mediation position, opening 7 days a week, about 1900 sessions per year, the Planetarium of Nantes has doubled its attendance in 6 years (from 25,000 to more than 50,000 people) but it is impossible to increase the gauge and declines about 15,000 people a year. It arrives at saturation. The Métropole of Nantes is therefore considering a study (at the next mandate), to decide whether or not the opportunity of a large planetarium project, like those of Rennes, Dunkirk, or Lyon, at the scale of its population basin.
This small municipal square of 690 m2 (7427 sq ft) located between the back of the planetarium and the Rue de l'Hermitage, has in its center a set of sculptures, including a giant sundial, made by Jean-Michel Ansel, sundial maker, entitled Structures astronomiques , representing the movement of the Earth around the Sun, eclipses of the Moon and the Sun, the retrograde movement of Mars, the sunshine of the Earth in real time, the planets scaled to each other etc. This square is accessible either by the staircase located between Misery street and Hermitage street, or from the Acadiens street bypassing the planetarium.