Towel: The Triumphant Return

Several of my cherished readers have noticed the distinct lack of towel-blogging in the last few weeks. There is a very good reason for this... somehow.

So, glossing over that point, and moving right ahead - Munich! I got to spend the day in Bavaria's largest city. Andi and some students from his French class were taking a trip there to see a lecture by Azouz Begag - and he thought I might like to tag along.

So, tag along I did - but not to see a lecture - my destination was the Deutsches Museum.

If you love science, you have to spend a weekend at the Deutsches Museum. Not an hour, not a day - but a whole weekend. I'm going back as soon as I can, and I'm not leaving for at least two days. They can lock me in - I'll sleep in the observatory!

A detailed post about the museum will have to wait until I visit it again - even though I spent the whole day there, I want to see more before I five a full report.

However, I did go to the museum's planetarium - which was interesting. I've been to quite a few really nice planetariums thanks to Johnson and his Astronomy Club trips. We have visited large digital domes and small mechanical domes - as well as a few in-between. However, none of them have been quite like the one in the Deutsches Museum.

The first thing that surpised me was how little room there was to wait on a show. The planetarium is at the top of a 5-story spiral staircase, and the area to wait on the next show is basically just the small landing at the top of that staircase. So, thirty people all crammed into that small landing - and me having to stand next to the railing above a 60 foot drop. Have I mentioned I don't like heights?

When I enterend the planetarium itself, I was also suprsied. I had expected some state-of-the-art techno extravaganza - but what I found was a simple flat-floored room with a large dome overhead. In the middle was a beautiful Zeiss planetarium with some accompanying slide projectors - very simple.

When the cove lights went down and the show started, a very accurate image of Munich at night was projection around the base of the dome. The whole show was pre-narrated in German, and consisted of a basic tour of the night sky and the planets. A few slides were thrown in for good measure - and it looked as though they were being projected straight up at the zenith - maybe the projector was integrated into the planetarium. In all, the show lasted about 20 minutes.

At the time, I was underwhelmed. It wasn't the planetarium - that was probably the best mechanical system I've ever seen - it was more the simplicity of the show. I was expecting something more than a tour of the sky, but that's all that's currently being shown.

It wasn't until I left the museum and got back to Waging, that I learned the Deutsches Museum was the site of the first planetarium in the world. I am assuming that the planetarium I was sitting in was not the original - almost all of the Deutsches Museum was destroyed by Allied bombs in World War II - as was just about everything in Munich, for that matter.

Now I understand better. It would be a shame to install some high-tech digital projector in this place. What I saw on the dome today was little changed from what people in 1923 saw for the first time. The planetarium is truly as much a museum piece as anything else I saw today.

Today, my towel came in handy as: A makeshift pillow on the train ride back to Waging.