Few people realize that the capital city of Jakartahas an impressive Planetarium and Observatory. Located in Central Jakarta, it is situated at Jalan Cikini within the Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) Arts complex.
The brainchild of Indonesia’s President Soekarno, it was his dream that the Planetarium would become a place where the Indonesian people could learn and research the vastness and enigmas of the Universe through science rather than through superstition. And through such knowledge reach out and touch the greatness of the Almighty.
Here the public can witness and be amazed at the astronomical simulation of the universe, the stars and planets.
Based on this vision the Planetarium was appointed the area that used to be the Jakarta Zoo at the Raden Saleh Park, in Central Jakarta, with the support of the Batik Cooperation. The Cornerstone was planted by Soekarno himself on 9 September 1964 and the project entrusted to the Governor of Jakarta, who was then, Governor Ali Sadikin and constructed under supervision of Prof. Rooseno. While the actual construction was undertaken by PN Hutama Karya and PN Nindya Karya, who were assisted by Invest Export Berlin RDD for the construction of the dome, telescope and air conditioning, and Carl Zeiss Jena for Projectors and electronic equipment.
The official opening took place on 1 March 1969, and was the very first planetarium built in South East Asia with as Director, Santoso Nitisastro. Its completion was in no small part due also to the contribution of Indonesia’s own astronomers at the Bosscha Observatory in Lembang, Bandung including Prof. The Pik Sin and Prof. Bambang Hidayat.
Over time the area came to accommodate the Arts Center since it had no other place else, and the area became known as Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM). Today, the Planetarium is under the auspices of the Provincial Government of Jakarta, and is managed under the Office for Education of Jakarta.
In 1996 the Planetarium and Observatory was completely renovated. The original telescope was changed to the most up to date Universarium Model VIII, the dome-shaped screen was renewed and the number of seats reduced from 500 to 320 seats.
Today, the Jakarta Planetarium is expected to become the Center for the Science and Research of Indonesia’s Astronomy to be linked to similar planetariums and observatories world-wide.
The Theater of the Stars
The main attraction for the public is the spectacular Theater of the Stars which explains about the Universe and the Solar System. This is a 60-minutes show that is usually filled with students from around Indonesia.
In the Solar system you can see three dimensional simulations and descriptions of the Sun, the planets Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
The audience will feel as transported into outerspace, roam in space while given information about the Solar System and taken onwards into inter-galactical space.
The Planetarium is open Tuesdays to Sundays, and is closed on Mondays and National Holidays. Groups of a minimum 100 people are accommodated at 09.30, 11.0 and 13.30 Tuesdays to Thursdays, and 09.30 and 13.30 only on Fridays to allow for Friday prayers.
For Individuals the Planetarium’s Theater shows start at 16.30 hrs daily, and 10.0 and 11.30, 13.00 hrs and 14.30 hrs on Saturdays and Sundays.
Tickets cost :
For Groups, School and university students : Rp 5,000 per person, with others : Rp 10,000 per person.
For Individuals, Children : Rp 3,500 per pax, and Adullts Rp 7,000 person.
Tickets are sold one hour before showtime.
Through the Telescope
The Jakarta Planetarium and Observatory has three locations from where to observe both visually and shoot photographs of the Sun, the Moon, Stars, and Comets. The Planetarium is equipped with high precision telescopes and allows sights to the public through its telescopes at certain months and on special occasions such as when determining the start and end of the Ramadhan fasting month, or other occasions like the eclipse of the moon or the sun. Telescope viewing is free of charge.
Unfortunately due to its location and Jakarta’s increasing bright lights of the city and its pollution, the sky and stars over Jakarta are most often unclear. But the Observatory has portable telescopes that can be positioned at more strategic locations.
In order to boost the enthusiasm of the public to become interested in Astronomy as a science or a hobby, the Association of Jakarta Amateur Astronomers (HAAJ) often holds sighting in the open air. One of their registered most senior members was Prof. Sunario, Indonesia’s former Foreign Minister, who had witnessed twice in his life both appearances of the Halley Comet over the earth in the time span of 76 years.
Besides the Theater, the Planetarium also has a comprehensive library on Astronomy, a Multimedia room, and an Exhibition Hall.
Do make it a point to see this wonderful show at the Planetarium and Observatory of Jakarta.