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Frequently Asked Questions


How big does the venue need to be to comfortably house the dome?

The planetarium dome must be set up indoors. It needs a minimum clear floor area of 6 metres by 8 metres. Ideally, the ceiling height at the centre of the dome should be at least 3.2 metres. The planetarium requires only one standard 240 volt electrical power outlet. A hall or gym is ideal provided the floor surface is wooden or carpeted. A cleared classroom or double assembly room is often large enough.

Is the dome safe?

Yes! The planetarium dome is made from a highly opaque, flame retardant, reflective fabric. It is not fastened to the classroom floor. Should an emergency occur at the school or venue, the dome can be easily lifted from within, and the audience is clear.

Can the dome accommodate wheelchairs?

Students in wheelchairs are most welcome and can enter while two helpers lift the side of the dome momentarily. Those on crutches can also enter in a similar fashion.

Why does the planetarium dome need to be indoors?

Because the dome is made of a soft material, it can't sit on concrete or asphalt surfaces. This would most certainly cause damage. Grassed areas are also not practical because the dome needs to sit on a relatively smooth surface such as wood or carpet to maintain a seal to keep it inflated. Wind and rain are potential hazards even if setup under a covered outdoor learning area.

How long does it take to set up the planetarium?

The equipment takes about an hour to fully set up. However, Geoff usually arrives one and a half hours before the first presentation because it can take extra time to carry the equipment in and to prepare the floor area. Most wooden floors are vacuumed by Geoff before setup.

What if our school doesn't have a Hall?

We have visited many schools that don't have a dedicated hall. Double classrooms are usually sufficient. Gymnasiums are ideal. Any cleared area with a floor space of 6 x 8 metres and a ceiling height of 3.2 metres. The floor needs to be either wood or carpet.

Can we use a room if the ceiling is not quite 3.2m high?

We are able to fit into rooms with ceiling lower than 3.2 metres but as long as the surface of the ceiling is smooth. Sprayed plaster surfaces are far too rough and would definitely damage the dome.

The brochure says the dome can fit 30-35 students but we have 37. Is this OK?

This really depends on the age of the students. Usually infants are so little that 45 in the dome is still comfortable. For stage 2 kids, 37 would still be comfortable but for stage 3 and early high school, anything over 35 would be a bit squeezy. For high school students, anything over 30 would be less than comfortable. That said, we've had unavoidable situations of around 45 year 8 students but with a bit of patience and organisation it was still workable. It's always best to even out the numbers to a comfortable level.

We only have enough students for 1 session. Will you still visit?

Yes, we will visit a school for 1 session as long as the school agrees to pay the minimum cost. Unfortunately, because there is a lot of equipment and it takes quite a bit of time to set up, a minimum cost has been set. This covers us for 60 students (or 70 for outside Sydney).

We have a teacher or a student with claustrophobia. Will he/she cope in the dome?

The dome is very safe and looks much smaller from the outside than it actually is inside. The entrance tunnel is the only section with a floor. The inside edge of the dome sits on the floor only enough to seal in the air and keep it inflated. If someone had a panic attack, they could easily just lift the wall from the inside. Usually, sitting near the exit helps those with mild claustrophobia. If a teacher has severe claustrophobia, it's best to arrange for a replacement prior to that session.

Can the students pay as they enter the dome?

No. The students need to enter the dome relatively quickly in single file. Money collection would slow this process down. Skyworks is fully GST compliant and will email a tax invoice to the school the following school day.

Do the students need to bring anything with them to the planetarium?

No. The only thing the students bring are themselves. Students can cause damage with pens or pencils and besides, even if they wanted to write notes, it's very dark for most of the presentation! Food and drink of any kind including chewing gum and lollies are not allowed in the dome. 

Can the class teacher stay outside of the dome during the presentation?

No. Geoff is in attendance only as the presenter and is not responsible for the students. Child Protection Legislation dictates that there must be no unsupervised contact with students. This means a teacher must be in the dome for the full duration of the presentation.

What happens if there is a power failure at the school?

The dome is inflated by a fan that runs continuously. If the fan stops, the dome comes down very slowly. In the unlikely event of a power failure, an emergency exiting procedure involves simply lifting the dome from one side and everyone is clear. Of the thousands of presentations I have given, this has only happened once and the safety procedure worked without a hitch.

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