ST Engineering Antycip and its partner, RSA Cosmos – Konica Minolta, have launched their first large-scale planetarium in the UK. The immersive simulation and virtual reality (VR) solutions provider and its digital planetariums partner are helping Sherwood Observatory inspire STEM interest and opportunities, particularly for disadvantaged young residents, through extracurricular activities and a visitor attraction, with RSA Cosmos’ turnkey solutions and astronomical software, SkyExplorer.

Sherwood Observatory, located between the towns on Sutton-in-Ashfield, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Mansfield, has recently received Ashfield District Council’s unanimous approval for plans to build a £6.35 million planetarium and education centre to attract thousands of visitors. The planetarium, which will be 10 metres wide, will start building in late August, with the aim it to be finished during November 2024.

In a joint effort with its partner RSA Cosmos – Konica Minolta, ST Engineering Antycip will provide Sherwood Planetarium with all the fitting of the planetarium, including software, dome, computers, seats, shows, audio and lighting. Moreover, a select group of construction companies, have been nominated for the architecture, design, and construction of the building.

On the importance of the new planetarium, Dr Steve Wallace, planetarium project manager, Sherwood Observatory, states: “Sherwood Observatory is dedicated to bridging the opportunity gap within our community by providing outreach using astronomy as a means of inspiring people of all ages to take an interest in STEM subjects and careers.”

The science centre, which will include the planetarium, will be a separate building to Sherwood Observatory, and will sit on the redundant underground Victorian reservoir, built in 1886. The science centre will aim to link the engineering achievements of the past to the engineering challenges of the future, by taking visitors on a journey from the Victorian reservoir to the planetarium and space science.

“With a persistent regional disparity in educational outcomes and an alarming threat to future prosperity, our area stands at a critical crossroads,” states Wallace. “Through creating a locally grown high-skills workforce, we aim to unlock the untapped potential in our area, foster educational opportunities and drive economic activity propelled by the planetarium.”