Education with Milky-Way.Kiwi

The Astrobiology Dome Portable Planetarium

A planetarium is a dome where a visual projection can be displayed to give an immersive experience. 

Our planetarium

We have a modern portable planetarium and a significant amount of experience operating in schools. The planetarium holds 25 ākonga and their teachers comfortably, and is used for audio visual experiences projected on the inside of a dome. This generates a fantastic experience that can be used to demonstrate many different environments.

Typically, planetaria are used for displaying the night sky and demonstrating the movement of the stars. Our planetarium is so much more as we can not only explore the universe but also the Earth from space. 

We cover lessons on day/ night, seasons, stars, life in the Universe, size of the Universe, cultural astronomy, Matariki, and Pacific and European Navigation. We also explore the Earth and the local region applicable to the school we are visiting. Our modules on New Zealand’s history of space, astronomy and navigation showcase the contribution that New Zealand brings to the world.

We can fit approximately 25 ākonga per session inside the planetarium, usually a class.

We can tailor the sessions according to your needs, but we recommend a minimum of 30 minutes /session. 

The maximum capacity per day is 200 students and teachers. 

Costs for operation of the planetarium is $1200 +GST per day. We recommend maximum one class per period. 

Teachers PLD

MoE supports the costs of our visit to your school for teachers PLD. Successful applications can be for a few hours to support an individual, up to 80 hours to support a department, 200 hours for a school, or even 500 hours to support a cluster of schools.We work with www.field-basedSTEM.kiwi who will assist you with the application process. 

We need a space that is at least 7x7m in diameter and 4 meters in height.

We also need access to power.

The space must be inside. We cannot run the planetarium outside as it is like a big tent held up by air pressure.

The planetarium accommodates wheelchairs.

Our planetarium uses a state-of-the art software package, created in collaboration by NASA and participating Universities. It enables the exploration of Earth, Mars, the Moon and other moons in the Solar System, down to very high resolution maps through to the edge of the Universe. The software is a simulation of current data obtained by space satellites undertaking Earth and planetary observations or researching the Universe, and is updated daily. We connect to the servers and download the latest updates on our computers before a school visit.

The planetarium is a hugely versatile educational medium that can be applied to many different disciplines.

In our school sessions, we have the capability to answer astronomy and space questions from students in an interactive manner, and based on their questions fly through our known universe wherever their curiosity takes them.

For example we can fly to, through and orbit around the Matariki star cluster, observe where in our Galaxy is placed and how it connects to the surrounding stars. How it looks from Earth and how it looks as observed from other places in our galactic neighbourhood.

Equally, we can simulate the beauty of a sunset over Tokyo through to an eclipse on an exoplanet. 

Please let  us know in advance what your needs are so we can create the best learning experience for your students.

Example of a lesson – New Zealand’s contribution to planetary sciences

Throughout New Zealand, there are geological and geomorphological features that are synonymous with each region and in the planetarium we can explore these features and tell the story that is relevant locally. This way, we can link students to what they see and experience in the planetarium to the real environment that they see everyday.

For example, in  Wairarapa we can follow the path of the Ruamahanga from deep in the Tararua Mountains through to where it meets the sea. Following this important awa as it traverses the bush clad mountains, past the diary farms, through the orchards and vineyards to Lake Wairarapa and into Palliser Bay. A journey like this enables students to see how the land and sky are connected through the seasons, the stars and the Moon. 


In schools through the Taupo Volcanic Zone we can take students on a journey through time as we explore the development and fossilisation of hot springs and other geothermal features. We then demonstrate how these are used to understand how we might find evidence of microbial life on Mars. So through exploring the places that students are familiar with we can connect them with the latest discoveries in other parts of the Solar System. To supplement that we bring our special NZ rock collection for your students to handle and make observations on.

We tailor the  programme we offer to be region-specific and are able to meet the needs of teachers and the curriculum as required by adjusting the content.

We want to connect students to the maritime beginnings of human arrival in New Zealand so we have a navigation programme that covers both Polynesian navigation and European navigation techniques that were used by people coming to New Zealand.

This is done through practical lessons on how to navigate using the stars and how the dimensions of the Solar System were unlocked through observations of celestial events such as transits and eclipses.


The stars of Matariki are visible in the morning sky of Aotearoa only around the winter solstice. In our planetarium, we can go anywhere in time to learn how to find them, fly through them and talk science.

We also talk about finding the star cluster other times of the year, where it is in the sky, what other names is it known by then and what  other people around the world think of it. The starcluster is  visible from anywhere in the world where people can see the Moon and the Sun and virtually every culture around the globe has a story about these beautiful stars. 

Find out more resources about Matariki here, including fly through videos and where to find them.  

Also check out our other programmes

Online Learning Modules

Mars Rovers

Access to Remote Telescopes

Analog Astronauts

Astrobiology Field Trip

We look forward to working with you