Sri Lanka Planetarium – Colombo, Sri Lanka - Atlas Obscura

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Planetarium

The first and only planetarium in Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka Planetarium has attracted a regular stream of stargazers and field-tripping school kids ever since it opened back in 1965. With its interesting architecture and engaging staff, it proudly stands as the first and only planetarium in Sri Lanka.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Sri Lanka Planetarium in Colombo is its interesting and strangely familiar architecture. Designed by A. N. S. Kulasinghe, the chief engineer of the State Engineering Corporation of Ceylon, it was built in the shape of a lotus in full bloom. It also borrowed from two famous buildings on different continents: the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral by Sir Frederick Gibberd, and Oscar Niemeyer’s Cathedral of Brasília.

Following a much-needed refurbishment in 2014, the planetarium now has 570 seats below its main dome, onto which a new 4D/Digital full dome projector displays the universe in all its glory. You can take a tour of the galaxy, see the night sky as it appears from another country, witness the midnight sun from the Arctic Circle, and marvel at solar eclipses, meteor showers, comets, and various other celestial events. The planetarium also hosts frequent science exhibitions, workshops, and seminars that attract people from across Sri Lanka and beyond.

From its very beginnings up until 2015, another stellar attraction at the planetarium was Christie Pillai, who had served as a lecturer from the very beginning. Pillai passed away in 2015 but remains a legend at the Sri Lanka Planetarium. Not only was he a hugely popular, entertaining and knowledgeable member of the planetarium staff, but he was also once the Secretary of the Sri Lanka Astronomical Association set up by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, with whom he had a close working relationship.

Know Before You Go

Sri Lanka Planetarium is located on the grounds of the University of Colombo campus, just off a road named Prof. Stanley Wijesundaran Mawatha. Shows are normally held from Tuesday to Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. In March 2018, the planetarium also began running free shows on Sundays, although it's best to confirm that in advance. Regular ticket prices are less than $1 US.

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