The last time I went to Nehru Planetarium I must have been eight years old. All I remember was the excitement of looking at a ceiling screen — a novelty in my time. The rest was what I made up in my head: a dais that moved, a dome that opened and a night sky that came alive.
Here I was, decades later with my eight-and six-year-old, at Nehru Planetarium. The façade was the same. But inside, the canvas unfurled. Before the show opened, there was time to look at the exhibits: the surface of the Moon, the lonely terrain of the plane of Mars and the exciting cubby rooms where you know exactly how much you weigh on the Sun or any of the planets.
<< It’s a joyride for space enthusiasts < For photo ops, get into a spacesuit for a picture of yourself on the Moon. It's a definite thrill. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
In the centre of the ground floor expanse is a miniature galaxy with the Sun at the centre. If you have school-going children who are learning about the Solar System, this is where you should start with — the whole picture: the Sun standing still and the different-sized planets moving in different paces around the Sun.
Children getting a closer look at the Moon’s surface
The magnificent displays of photographs of the Moon and of Mars are awe-inspiring. The expanse of the observable universe and its galaxies, and the space our galaxy occupies, gives perspective on many things. There are a number of installations too. The Moon’s surface and how the Earth looks from the Moon were our favourites.
The films screened at the planetarium’s sky theatre keep changing. When we dropped by, it was a show about stars. Despite the age of the auditorium, you’ll find that the metal seats are still more comfortable than the plush seating inside today’s swish multiplexes. The chair tilts up, the lights are dimmed and the show is on. This is the best way to teach children about the many galaxies that we are a part of.
The planetarium staff will take you through a compelling slideshow of the solar system that make for a fascinating treasure trove of information. This Worli landmark is a must-visit for adults and growing-up kids, to educate them on the wonders of stars, galactic mergers and what lies beyond the Earth that we live in. It’s a place to visit and revisit.
>> The Nehru Science Centre; or a bracing walk at Worli Seaface; or walk towards the Haji Ali Dargah. Atria Mall screens 10-15-minute 4D movies. Kidville inside the same mall has a gym activity centre.
How to get there: The following BEST routes ply to the venue: A1, A2, A4, 28, 33, 37, 39, 57, 80, 81, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89,91, 92, 93, 125, 151, 153, 154, 166, 385, 302, 357 and 521 Nearest local railway stations: Mumbai Central, Mahalakshmi, Dadar and Byculla
Time: 11 am to 5 pm
Entry Fee: Rs 30 (child, 4 to 12 years). Rs 55 (adult). If it's a group of children, a student concession can be availed of (concession for a minimum group of 25 on the submission of letter from school).
Best time: Now; when the skies are clear. If you live nearby, the planetarium allows live sky observation with telescopes on Sundays, from 7pm to 8 pm, free of cost. This is offered from November to May, as long as the skies are not overcast.
Food: The Planetarium has a canteen for snacks. Not the greatest, but still. Outside, there are options like kiosks for Bhel and Sandwich as well as Jewel of India and Two One Two restaurants within the Nehru Centre premises, or Copper Chimney nearby.
Restroom facilities: Yes
The Planetarium is closed every Monday. The show currently playing is Violent Universe. Each show is screened twice in Hindi (12 noon and 4.30 pm), in Marathi (1.30 pm) and in English (3 pm)