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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Futuristic planetarium unveiled
Peter Harrison planetarium
The new planetarium has an advanced laser projector
A futuristic planetarium at the Royal Observatory has been unveiled by The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

The 45-tonne tilted bronze-clad cone with a truncated glass top will seat 120 people at the observatory in Greenwich, south-east London.

The Peter Harrison Planetarium also boasts one of the most advanced digital laser projectors in the world.

It is the final part of the National Maritime Museum's 16m redevelopment following five years of work.

The Queen attended the original museum opening 70 years ago in 1937 with her father, King George VI.

On Tuesday, she unveiled a plaque to mark the unveiling of the planetarium.

The Queen at the new planetarium
The Queen and the Duke opened the planetarium

She was accompanied by the duke as they met astronomy students who were using computer technology to hunt for asteroids.

He was also shown a telescope which is a replica of one of Galileo's.

Professor Paul Murdin, the Royal Observatory's project astronomer, said: "The new galleries, learning centre and planetarium focus on important national objectives, to inspire and motivate young people to be interested in science for their own greater fulfilment and for the better future of the UK."

Last year 960,000 people visited the observatory and the figures have been increasing at 6% per year.

The conical building is tilted at 51.5 degrees, the latitude of Greenwich, and stands astride the Prime Meridian (Longitude 0 degrees).

The Prime Meridian runs through the observatory, which was founded in 1675, and is also the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

The Peter Harrison Planetarium will open to the public on 25 May.


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