Our History

The M. P. Birla Planetarium started functioning from September 29, 1962 as an educational, scientific and research institution and was formally inaugurated on July 2, 1963 by the first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. This was the second major Planetarium to be set up in the commonwealth countries with London having a Planetarium a few years earlier to the one in Kolkata.

Mr. M. P. Birla was the driving force for setting up M. P. Birla Planetarium.The Planetarium, since its inception, has designed and presented to the public and students more than 300 astronomical projects dealing with many facets of astronomy, astrophysics, celestial mechanics, space science, history of astronomy as well as mythology concerning stars and planets. The Planetarium has also been conducting a series of graded school programmes for children of various age groups. Almost from the very beginning of this institution, it has been conducting a Free Evening Course in Astronomy. This course has turned out to be extremely popular over the years and citizens from all walks of life in the age range of 18-80 years join this 10 month, once a week, course. In the year 1993 it introduced a Post-Graduate Diploma Course in Astronomy & Planetarium Sciences for graduate students with physics and mathematics background who are interested in knowing the subject of astronomy & astrophysics in greater detail.

M. P. Birla Planetarium has been involved not only on edutainment but also in astronomy popularization, teaching and research. Due to its research activities in different branches of astronomy, astrophysics & cosmology and also because of its tremendous efforts in spreading the knowledge of astronomy among school and college students, the M. P. Birla Institute of Fundamental Research under whose aegis this planetarium runs, has been recognized by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO).

The M. P. Birla Planetarium, over the last five decades of its existence has hosted national and international seminars in astronomy and connected fields and has been regularly organizing astronomical expeditions for the studies of eclipses and other celestial events. The Planetarium has also been organizing special lectures and exhibitions in connection with centenaries of astronomers like Galileo, Kepler, Tycho Brahe and others. The faculty members, regularly attend national and international conferences and workshops and deliver lectures. Dr. Debiprosad Duari, Director, Research & Academics regularly delivers lectures at different universities and colleges to motivate further interest and research activities in astronomy.

The Planetarium has been bringing out a scientific Journal called “The Journal of M. P. Birla Planetarium” wherein appear contributed articles from astronomers from India as well as from abroad. In recent years, the planetarium has also brought out astronomical publications like “Bust Stories”, “A Brief Introduction of Astronomy”, yearly astronomical pocket-calendars, CDs on astronomical issues and picture post-cards etc.

The M. P. Birla Planetarium was chosen as the venue for the 7th International Planetarium Directors’ Congress in 1980. Several planetarium directors from all over the world attended this conference and participated in deliberations.

The Planetarium is equipped with an electronics laboratory for design and fabrication of scientific equipment. In 1993, after two years of work, this lab set up an automation system for executing the special effects and visuals during a planetarium show. Regular upgradations of our control systems are done at the in-house facility. Another feature of the M. P. Birla Planetarium, which makes it unique , is the practice of delivering live lectures during the shows, thereby giving the general public and school students an opportunity to interact with experts on the subject.