DOT: Live planetarium review

For this Astra-themed review we wanted to travel to space, to look at the stars, walk on the moon, and tell you all about our otherworldly adventure. However, as Idun couldn’t subsidise a trip to the moon with SpaceX just yet, we had to settle for the next best thing, which was visiting the live planetarium from DOT Groningen. Therefore, our most critical lifeliners gathered on a starry evening next to Stadsstrand and visited the live planetarium show ‘Journey through the universe’ at DOT. So let's go through all the ins-and-outs of this experience and let the review guide you in your next Wednesday afternoon activity.


The accessibility

Before getting into the show itself, you’ll have to get there. Which is the easiest thing ever. Everyone knows DOT, whether you’ve been there before or not, you for sure have seen the big white ping pong ball between the Stadsstrand and the UMCG. It's hard to miss the dome, therefore you don’t need Google Maps, which I find to be a pro. Once you arrive at the building, you enter a very cute and comfy cafe-style restaurant. This is looking great, however, as we have not tried the food we won’t make any recommendations along those lines. Passing by the restaurant you walk up towards the dome entrance. You are faced with a cinema-like room, shaped circular; the room is round, the screen is a 360 degree dome, and crescent-moon-shaped rows of seats. Very, very, very comfortable seats, they are soft, wide, have incredibly much space for your legs, and are slightly tilted backward so you can lie down with your head on the backrest. The seats were for this reason also highlighted by our panel of reviewers as one of the best parts of the experience. 


The set-up

Once seated, the show can begin. And this was the moment when I realised my own ignorance, as I apparently did not know what a live planetarium meant. Unlike what I thought, there is no narrated movie playing, but instead, there are two astronomy students narrating the visuals live. The two girls first kindly introduced themselves to the audience, after which they continued to narrate the entire show through the use of immersive slideshow-like animations. This was unexpected for me, yet very unique. The girls knew very well what they were talking about and really captured the attention of the audience. A downside to a live narration is that at times the flow could have been smoother. Here and there were some technical issues with the sound that were luckily resolved very quickly. But also their own speech patterns, accents, and fluff words become more prominent when people talk live, versus when a scripted recording is played. For example, Violet pointed out that the narrators tended to undersell the magnitude of things by stating ‘that’s nice’ or ‘pretty cool’ at things we would arguably find mindblowingly awesome. Nonetheless, the girls were very sweet and available for questions and chit-chat afterwards, which was greatly appreciated by the lifeliners.


The content

Starting on earth, we slowly zoomed out and passed the moon, our solar system, the Milky Way, and even went to further exoplanets in the universe. Along the way we got accompanying fun facts to enlighten us about the magic of the universe. This order made it really easy to follow along and made the hour pass without noticing. Time flies when you’re having fun! Although we were highly concentrated on the story, Marit pointed out that some of the information they provided was already known by most, but that she still learned some new interesting facts. This was agreed upon by Gintare, who pointed out that hardcore astronomy lovers might find the provided information not detailed enough, but for a more general interested audience, it is very informative and fascinating. The visuals are beautifully animated, really making you feel like you’re floating through the stars from planet to planet. Sometimes with some aggressive comets, Filip noticed the stars and rocks that fly with rapid speed right next to your face. These jumpscares keep you on your toes, which is great because the seat comfort lends itself a bit too well for an afternoon nap. 


The cost

The entire show takes about 50 minutes, with some time at the end to approach the narrators for further questions. For this hour of entertainment, they ask a general admission fee of €7,50 per person. There are no special student tickets to make it cheaper. In general, the lifeline panel found the price to be just right, but we agreed that it definitely should not get more expensive. It’s a decent price for an evening out, gaining knowledge, and having a unique experience with friends. When the main narrator, who fittingly had space buns in her hair, told us about upcoming shows, which are themed more around exoplanets and stuff further away from our Milky Way, we were intrigued and some of us showed interest in revisiting DOT once the new shows are out, which proves the repeatability of this activity to definitely be present. 


Concluding thoughts

All in all we really liked this experience, it was a fun night out with a unique experience where we even learned something new. Rating this show therefore resulted in an almost unanimous score of four out of five stars. So if you have been living in Groningen for years or just a couple of months and have never visited the big white dome, definitely give it a shot! Look at the website to find the show you find most interesting and gather some friends for a guaranteed fun evening.