Chennai Birla Planetarium goes beyond space science

Chennai: How about learning maths on wheels or practically witnessing chain reactions through mechanical simulation?

A kid presses the key, neutron splits. Boom! That’s nuclear fission for you.

“Look, ma! Here’s nuclear fission explained in a simple way,” screams the child in wonder at Birla Planetarium.

He then sets his mother on her toes as he goes around the exhibits to learn about nuclear science.

Thronged by science connoisseurs, Birla Planetarium at Kotturpuram is known for exhibits and shows based on space science.

While much has been talked about the resources that the planetarium has, the authorities have been consistently taking efforts to include other branches of science and make it a holistic place to learn and explore.

One such move is the introduction of Hall of Nuclear Power, Innovation Hub, Defence Research Gallery, Srinivasa Ramanujan Mathematics Gallery and Space Research Gallery in 2016.

“Since 2010 we have been offering diploma courses for people interested in astronomy in coordination with Madurai Kamaraj University. When we were pondering on how to make the place an all-inclusive one, we decided to set up centres for other science streams,” said executive director in-charge, Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre, Soundararajaperumal.

The Birla Planetarium is has around 1,500 student visitors from various schools in the city every day.

Talking about it, technical officer, Birla Planetarium, R Balakrishnan, said,”We have been actively involved in making people visit the planetarium. While the weekdays see school crowd, families visit the centre during the weekends. In addition, we get visitors from other cities of the State from January to April.”


With electricity consumption going up, nuclear energy is the way forward, say experts. The capability to provide bulk energy to the base load, allows to gain energy independence and produces carbon-free clean energy.

The Hall of Nuclear Power gallery exhibits models depicting the energy required for the world, climate change and depleting fuel source, other sources of generating electricity, mechanical simulation explaining the nuclear chain reaction, nuclear fuel cycle and much more.


To inculcate interest in the field of robotics, private schools in the city have been taking a slew of measures. With schools doing their bit, the planetarium has been conducting robotics classes free of cost during the weekends.

“We invite five applications from around 25 schools in the city and have received overwhelming response from several government and private schools. In addition, we pick students and train them for the Robotics Olympiad every year,” said the gallery in-charge.


If you are someone who has developed hatred towards mathematics, it is time you developed affinity towards the subject. Models explaining derivations and understanding geometrical equations are the attractions among the 80 models in this gallery.


While we have all heard stories of civil wars, we might have even watched movies and documentaries explaining the trials and tribulations that the soldiers had to go through to defend our country. But little do we know of the A-1 machinery that were used in battles.

Partnering with Defence Research and Development Organisation, the planetarium houses state-of-the-art models such as BHIM T-6 self-propelled Howitzer, Arjun tank and other such battle machinery provide knowledge.

In addition, the officials are digitising the planetarium show to bring an immersive effect through optomechanical techniques which will be ready in a year. Until then, temporary screening services have been arranged which can accommodate 80 people.