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One of the first young visitors to experience the revamped Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome in Cape Town was evidently hustled out of the darkened room by an anxious mum. "Sensory overload," the parent explained tersely. Reclining in what seems remarkably like space as planets and stars whirl overhead during the programme Asteroid: Mission Extreme, one gets a sense of what the child felt. The planetarium is one of only six fully fledged planetaria in Africa and its new digital visualisation technology promises "immersive multisensory edutainment" for young and old. Computer-generated shows are convincingly 3-D, pumping perception with visual data like an Imax theatre on steroids. Astronomy programmes are perfect for the dome: beautiful, mysterious, vast. But anything shot in 360° glory can potentially be screened. Future shows will take pupils into worlds as diverse as human cells (mini-universes) or atomic structures — or send them flying over Rio. The Dome’s capabilities, howeve...

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