The Kazan planetarium is a unique place. It is the only complex of its kind in Russia, which was created at Kazan Federal University. It is located on the territory of V. Engelhardt astronomical observatory, occupying an area of 21 hectares. Opened in 2013, it is going to be a part of the future Astropark – scientific, educational and entertainment center.
The planetarium represents the best world experience and knowledge on equipping complexes of such kind. While developing the designs, the experts have analyzed 22 planetariums in various places of the world and have finally created their own ideal version for Kazan.
In the main building of the complex there is a roomy hall with 87 seats, equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The complicated system of projectors and the giant domelike screen inclined with a 10 degrees angle create an effect of a three-dimensional picture. Both the exterior and the interior of the building, stylized to fit the space theme, are no less impressive. Sitting in comfortable folding seats, the viewers can immerse themselves into the mysterious 3D world of stars and planets and travel to faraway spots of the Solar system. Today the planetarium offers its visitors a good choice of popular-science films, including “The Black Holes”, “Darwin’s Evolution Theory” and “The Development of Galaxies”. The stock library is constantly refilled.
Children will especially like the planetarium’s lobby. Here they can see how a small-scale Foucault pendulum works, watch Tesla’s plasma globes, robots dancing to music and a model of the Earth which floats in mid-air with the help of two magnets.
Beside the planetarium, there are 12 vintage telescopes in the observatory – all of them still working. They can only be used during night-time visits, because the stars can’t be seen during the day. In front of the building is an armillary sphere, visitors’ favorite place for taking pictures. Next to the sphere the ‘magical 55th meridian’ is drawn on the ground – they say, it makes any wishes come true! You only have to step over this ‘wizard’.
In the observatory one can also find a sun-dial which tells the exact time for this spot. However, this time won’t be the same as the time in your watch, because a regular watch usually shows average Moscow time.
The observatory museum has a variety of exhibits presented in two exhibition halls: telescopes, historical documents, old photos of significant events and people participating in them.
The observatory is also home to unique cedar trees, which is what botanists usually come here to see.
The Observatory of Kazan Federal University was founded in 1901 by Vasily Pavlovich Engelhardt, who found the best astronomical equipment in Europe for his pet project and made a contribution of 200 thousand in gold (this amount is roughly equal to 200 billion present-day rubles). This money was confiscated at the time of the revolution.
Today the observatory is being revived. A solid scientific base has been prepared, highly qualified personnel has been trained to work here, the planetarium has been constructed. Speaking of which, in the Soviet period, up to the late 1980s, the planetarium was located in the lower Sretensky (Meeting of the Lord) church of the Petropavlovsky Sobor (Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral) of Kazan.
By electric suburban train: from Kazan railway station to Observatory station, then uphill on foot (1.5 km)
By car: take the Kazan – Zelenodolsk highway until you reach the turn to Orekhovka rural settlement, then drive 2.5 km to the observatory gate.