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Engaging Adults in a 3D Planetarium
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Sitting outside the Milky Way:
Communicating Science with Adults in a 3D Planetarium

Andrew Glester

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement of the University of the West of England, Bristol for the degree of Master of Science.
November 2015

 A synopsis of this dissertation appears in Planetarian, Vol. 46, No. 2, June 2017,  pages 14-17.

Shared with permission of author and @Bristol Planetarium


Planetariums are evolving. In July 2015, the @Bristol Planetarium became the first 3D planetarium in the UK. Audiences are taken on a multimedia, 3D journey through the Cosmos to supplement the more traditional 2D representation of the night sky. This research sought to explore the role of the new 3D Planetarium in communicating science with adults. Three uses of the Planetarium were considered with self-completion questionnaires. Content analyses of the presenter’s narration and interaction were also conducted. The audiences were a combination of people looking for a night out with friends and family with little or no previous interest in science and those coming specifically to further their interest in astronomy. The results suggest that adult audiences are strongly favourable to the 3D Planetarium experience, wishing to come back again to learn more about science and stargazing. It is also suggested that the 3D Planetarium provides an inspirational experience which leaves adult audiences planning to change their behaviour to reflect what they have learned. Further areas of study have emerged from the research, and more, long term studies into the efficacy of 3D Planetariums will further inform the topic as the technology matures.

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