A trip to the South Tyrol Planetarium in San Valentino in Campo

Manuel Demetz

A trip to the South Tyrol Planetarium in San Valentino in Campo

A trip to the Universe

The South Tyrol Planetarium in San Valentino in Campo

I was not the only one to have been attracted by the riddle of the universe as a child. I think that all kids love planets and stars and the mystery that is hidden behind the term “universe”. This enthusiasm tends to decrease with age: our former interest in planets, moons and asteroids becomes our own universe of the humdrum: duties, habits, tasks – the hectic routine of everyday life. We have little time left for thoughts of the real universe - but we do have our children.

In the beginning was the question

Soon my son will be taking an important step in his development: he will begin his first school year, and fun and games will no longer be his only diversion. So we agreed that father and son would spend another day together before this major event – all boys together, so to speak. A day talking about a small, but still a great step: going to school! Our destination is the South Tyrol Planetarium, and more specifically the “Planets Adventure” show. A trip to the universe is surely a fitting backdrop to fully prepare us for the upcoming school year. What greater inspiration for knowledge and learning can there be than the exploration of the universe?

Dad, we’re going at light speed!

The auditorium in the Planetarium at San Valentino is of manageable size and feels like a mega-high-end home cinema system. A young, qualified astronomer welcomes children and adults and, after a brief introduction, the show starts. There is no popcorn, but my son is in cinema mood. As the projection starts the circular dome lights up. At first I feel slightly dizzy and it takes a few seconds before my eyes realise that it is not the viewers who are moving, but rather the projection on the dome. The journey into the universe begins and we are on the way to exploring the planetary world. We navigate to Pluto at light speed and everyone in the Planetarium eagerly awaits the kind of world to be seen on the outermost planet of our solar system. As we are leaving the auditorium, after about an hour, my son asks: “Can we come here again to watch the rockets?” after we have encountered ice clouds, record temperatures, giant craters and moons. The animation with the comics very clearly demonstrates the characteristics of the planets and amusingly gives us useful knowledge about the universe. The animated effects in combination with the circular screen above the heads of the audience also ensured that we felt almost like Captain Kirk at the helm of the Spaceship Enterprise!

Planetarium Gummer - San Valentino
Planetarium Alto Adige/Südtirol
Planetarium Alto Adige a S. Valentino

Things are clearer with a child’s eyes

The “Planets Adventure” is also a great experience for adults. A glimpse of the universe gives you a clearer view and lets you better calibrate your own world; distinguishing the important from the unimportant, putting things into perspective. As the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it, our existence is as nothing compared to the magnificence of the universe.

My son and I - this relationship is our own little universe! And, as we get into the car, we decide in comradely fashion that this “universe day” deserves to be celebrated with a schnitzel and fries. “Dad, why do we need rockets to visit the universe when it’s so nice here?” little Emil asks me, his expression very serious, as we return from San Valentino to Collepietra. “Let’s ask Mum”, I suggest after a quick think and wink at my son. “I’m sure you’ll learn all about it at school. Are you looking forward to it?”, I ask.

The Planetarium and Observatorium in San Valentino in the Val d’Ega stages various events and shows on the theme of astronomy and is open all year round, while the planetary trail offers the adventurous the chance to learn more about the fascinating subject of astronomy along a walking trail.

Manuel Demetz

Planning new routes, testing new bikes, discovering new valleys and mountain trails – these are Manuel’s true passions! His bike is almost always on his mind – not just when he works as a Content Scout at clicktext, the South Tyrolean agency for corporate content...