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IIf you find yourself in Johannesburg or Cape Town and you’ve always been fascinated by the night sky, then visit a South African planetarium and journey into deep space without lifting your feet off the ground.
There are two wonderful planetariums where you can enjoy this experience: Cape Town's Iziko Planetarium on Queen Victoria Street, situated in the beautiful Company Gardens, and the University of the Witwatersrand – the Wits Planetarium – in Johannesburg. Both are centrally located and easy to find.
South Africa’s planetariums are Africa’s biggest – the Wits Planetarium is in fact the second-biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. Both offer mind-expanding shows to the public, as well as astronomy lessons. Educate yourself about star constellations, the movements of the planets, the wonders of the southern skies and the extraordinary deep-sky objects that have been discovered in our universe.
Powerful projectors, which use the latest technology to create images of the universe, ensure that your experience of the night sky is evocative and all-consuming. Each presentation is enhanced with quality sound and high-resolution imagery, and there is a variety of shows on offer throughout the year.
If you’re serious about astronomy, then venture further and make a point of visiting the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in the Karoo. Situated just outside the village of Sutherland in Northern Cape, SALT is the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere – so powerful, that it can look at cosmic events 13-billion light-years away (in other words, they happened 13-billion years ago – almost the beginning of spacetime itself).
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Wits Planetarium, Johannesburg
Tel: +27 (0)11 717 1390
Iziko Planetarium, Cape Town
Tel: +27 (0)21 481 3800
How to get here
Both planetariums are centrally located and easy to reach by bus or taxi, although self-driving is also an option.
Around the area
In Cape Town, visit the Company Gardens (the CBD’s green retreat), the V&A Waterfront and Robben Island. In Johannesburg, you could go to the nearby Johannesburg Zoo, Newtown (famous for arts and culture; the Market Theatre is a landmark here), or the Apartheid Museum.
What will it cost
Consult the listed websites for current prices.
Length of stay
The shows at both planetariums typically last an hour.
Where to stay
Both cities have lots of accommodation catering to all tastes and budgets, but if you’re splashing out on luxury, the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town and The Westcliff in Parktown, Johannesburg, are each relatively close to their cities’ respective planetariums.