Digital planetarium comes to Tavira in 2017

A digital planetarium is going to be built in Tavira’s Camera Obscura building and should be up and running by the first quarter of 2017.
The €300,000 project has already received the green light from the town council and is scheduled to begin construction in September.
Setting up a planetarium has been a goal ever since British astronomy-buffs Clive and Gloria Jackson took over Tavira’s old water tower in 2003 and set up a Camera Obscura inside, providing stunning 360º views over the town.
Now that the technology needed to bring the planetarium to life is considerably cheaper than it used to be, the idea is finally considered feasible.
“These days there is accessibly-priced digital equipment. A few years ago, these machines cost thousands (of euros),” Clive told Barlavento newspaper.
He explained that the planetarium will focus on astronomy, but use new tools such as virtual reality to offer visitors unique experiences.
“The dome that will cover the planetarium will allow us to show 360º videos and films. Imagine going on a virtual trip above the town (filmed by a drone) or visiting Mars,” said Clive.
The Jacksons, who used to run Tavira’s Astronomy Centre, also hope to work together with schools – giving children and youngsters a chance to discover the planetarium and the Camera Obscura.
The planetarium will be built on the building’s ground floor, directly below the Camera Obscura.
Another novelty will be a VIP (Visitors Information Point) area that will act as an information centre for tourists keen to learn more about Tavira.
“Even though we have a tourism office in Tavira, it closes for lunch; it closes at other times as well. Our goal is to be open every day between July and October,” Gloria told Barlavento, adding that many tourists have trouble getting answers to the simplest questions, like “How can we get to Santa Luzia?”
“We live off of tourism, it’s essential to Tavira and the Algarve, and anywhere else in Portugal these days. But nothing is signaled in English, there isn’t an effort to make life easy for tourists.”
In their interview with the Portuguese weekly, the Jacksons also revealed that they almost set up another Camera Obscura in Faro’s Ermida de Santo António do Alto. The project never moved forward, which they say is a shame as the view there is unique, “incomparable to anywhere else in the world”.
Now, the plan is to meet Faro mayor Rogério Bacalhau to see whether the project can be revived.

Discount for Resident readers
Are you interested in visiting Tavira’s Camera Obscura? You can do so this Friday (June 24) and enjoy an exclusive 50% discount if you present a copy of this week’s Algarve Resident, carrying this article when you purchase your ticket for €2.