University of St Andrews   School of Physics and Astronomy Astrophysics Group

Mobile Planetarium | FAQs

What are the requirements for a visit from the Mobile Planetarium?

The team are very happy to participate in any events. However, there are a few checks that you must perfom to ensure that the Mobile Planetarium is suitable. Firstly, you must have access to a building or a marquee with a floor which is large enough to accommodate the 8m wide, 8m long and 3m tall Mobile Planetarium. Secondly, the same building or marquee must have access to at least one power socket. Lastly, you must ensure that the building or marquee being used is not a thoroughfare or in a noisy environment. The dome of the Mobile Planetarium is not sound proof so minimising outside noise is essential to ensure you get the best out of our shows.

If your response to all these three points was "that's not a problem" then please visit our availability page to see when we are free to pay you a visit.


Who can hire the Mobile Planetarium?

The Mobile Planetarium is predominantly hired by primary schools but we can also be hired out by other groups such as summer schools and secondary schools. In the past, we have taken the Mobile Planetarium to the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh and we are part of the Dundee Science Festival Community Roadshow events in November 2013.


How many people does the Mobile Planetarium accommodate?

The Mobile Planetarium can accommodate up to 30 children or up to 25 persons in a children-plus-adults show. For school visits, we request that children of a similar age are in each show so that we can pitch at the correct level. We also welcome staff to accompany the children in the shows as it helps us to keep the children quiet during the shows.

Wheelchairs can also be accommodated in the Mobile Planetarium - an average sized wheelchair takes the space of 2 seated children.


How long do the Mobile Planetarium shows last?

For schools, the shows for children in years P5 and above can be arranged to last anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes. The story and sing-along shows for the younger children last about 15 minutes. As all of our presenters are astronomy PhD students we can also run "Ask An Astronomer" sessions after the shows, if requested.

At events, we usually perform 20 minute shows every 30 minutes to leave enough time before and after the shows to get people in and out of the dome.

In addition to the actual show, the Mobile Planetarium takes around half an hour to set up and 20 minutes to take down and pack away. Please take these times into account if the room allocated for the Mobile Planetarium is to be used for other means during the same day (at lunch time, for instance).


How far can the Mobile Planetarium travel?

We can take the Mobile Planetarium anywhere within a 40 minute drive of St Andrews. This generally limits us a region of Fife to the east of Glenrothes and a region of Tayside within 8 miles of Dundee. To see if this includes your location, click here.


How much does a visit from the Mobile Planetarium cost?

The shows themselves are completely free. However, we do ask that the transport costs are met by the person/company arranging the visit. This is calculated as the cost of fuel (at a rate of 45 pence per mile) plus the cost of car rental (£20 - £30 per day). We request that invoice details are provided during the booking process so that an invoice can be sent out from the University of St Andrews School of Physics and Astronomy after the event has taken place.


How many shows can the Mobile Planetarium perform in one school visit?

We can perform a maximum of 6 shows in one school day (2 before morning break, 2 between morning break and lunch and 2 following the lunch break). If you wish to book the Mobile Planetarium for a full day, please take into account the space being occupied by the Mobile Planetarium. If the Mobile Planetarium needs to be taken down during the lunch break, the length of the shows either side of the lunch break will be affected.


Can the Mobile Planetarium be deflated during the lunch break?

If possible, we request that the Mobile Planetarium be left inflated for the full booking, even through the lunch break. If the Mobile Planetarium needs to be taken down during the lunch break, the length of the shows either side of the lunch break will be affected.


How do you enter the Mobile Planetarium?

The usual entrance to the Mobile Planetarium is through a tunnel attached to the dome which is large enough for adults to crawl through. For those who are not able to crawl, the sides of the Mobile Planetarium can be lifted up and over people.


Is the Mobile Planetarium suitable for everyone?

We make every effort to accommodate everyone but the Mobile Planetarium is not suitable for everyone. Those who suffer from claustrophobia or have a fear of the dark are not encouraged to attend our shows.

We are able to accommodate wheelchair users and people with dissabilities. If you have any queries about specific dissabilities or issues, please don't hessitate to get in touch with us via the contact page.