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Planetarium Do Porto

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The Planetarium of Porto – Centro Ciência Viva is a unit of the University of Porto, which began its regular activities on 24 November 1998. It results from Professor Teresa Lago's vision of bringing together in a single space a center for the creation of new scientific knowledge and a space for the dissemination and promotion of scientific culture. The dream took almost a decade and materialized after the creation of the Center for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) in 1989, a research center with international recognition, which became the largest national research unit in astrophysics and science from space. CAUP was created with three pillars or lines of action: scientific research, training, dissemination and support for teaching.

With the support of the Civil Government of Porto, CAUP was the first national institution to acquire a portable planetarium, starting in 1990 a program with schools and municipalities. Since then, more than 250,000 children, from the north to the south of the country and also on the islands, have attended a session where they were introduced, sometimes for the first time, to basic concepts of astronomy, aimed at increasing their scientific literacy.

With the purpose of building a planetarium in Porto, in the early 90's the City Council of Porto acquired a Carl Zeiss optomechanical star projector. However, the projector was awaited for the construction of the Planetário do Porto building and the Astrophysics Center of the University of Porto until 1997.

The Planetarium of Porto was one of the first centers to integrate the Ciência Viva Centers Network. The network's mission is to promote active citizenship supported by scientific knowledge, inspiring and mobilizing citizens through science, promoting scientific culture and challenging the public to share and debate new experiences. In the network we believe in social progress based on curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and the involvement of all citizens.

In line with technological developments and best international practices, in 2014, Planetário do Porto began a renovation, with the aim of being able to better fulfill its mission, increase educational capabilities and tools and make the experience of visitors more engaging.

– The optomechanical system was dismantled and a digital system installed by one of the most experienced European suppliers, whose system favors scientific rigor and accuracy.

– The chairs have been re-oriented in a unidirectional arrangement, making the experience more uniform for all visitors.

– The projection screen, the “dome”, by a state-of-the-art, in order to make the overlaps between its various plates virtually imperceptible to the viewer during the projection. Currently this is the best “dome” that exists in Portugal.

Entering the new millennium opened the doors for the internationalization of Portuguese astronomy. At the end of 2000 Portugal became a full member of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the largest international astronomy organization, and of the European Space Agency (ESA), thus opening the doors of the largest and most sophisticated observatories in the world to national researchers.

In 2013, as a result of the merger of the research units of CAUP and the Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Lisbon (CAAUL), the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA) was created. In 7 years, IA researchers have published about a thousand articles in scientifically reviewed journals, about 75% of all national production in astronomy and astrophysics, contributing to a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Universe, the formation and evolution of galaxies, the physical processes that take place in stars and still discovering and characterizing exoplanets, the planets that orbit other stars.

Today, AI researchers play an important role in the development of several ESA space missions and cutting-edge instruments for ESO's telescopes. Among ESO member countries, Portugal's impact factor in the area of ​​space science, often used to assess the quality and relevance of research produced, is the second highest, only surpassed by Denmark.

Three decades later, the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences is the institution that sets the course for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Portugal.

The Planetarium of Porto – Centro Ciência Viva is a unique science center, managed by the largest national research institute in astronomy, which produces its own contents with the proper pedagogical adequacy and scientific rigor, and which receives more than 30,000 visitors a year.

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