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Museum of Science reopens the Hayden Planetarium

Zeiss Starmaster in the newly transformed Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science
Zeiss Starmaster in the newly transformed Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science© Michael Malyszko 2010.

Yesterday the Museum of Science reopened its newly renovated Charles Hayden Planetarium. Its inaugural show is the premiere of Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun, a timely astronomy show that explores the science of exoplanets – planets outside of our solar system. If you have been following Nasa’s Kepler mission, and are fascinated with its recent discoveries you will want to see Undiscovered Worlds. You’ll see the surfaces of other planets, hear about their atmosphere, find out how other solar systems are structured and how their planet surfaces and atmospheres differ from those in our own solar system.

In addition to pre-recorded shows like Undiscovered Worlds, the planetarium will also be host to custom live astronomy shows as well as light shows. The Museum now has a state-of-the-art Zeiss Starmaster, one of only two in the United States. The Starmaster is a custom-built optics system that realistically recreates the night sky using fiber optics that enhances the size and brightness of up to 9,100 stars, and can generate flickering stars as natural as the real thing. The planetarium also makes use of the Sky-Skan Digital System with its Digital 2 software and a Sony SXRD 4K Digital Video Projectors with an extensive sky database to create original programming. This technology can simulate space travel, as well as global climate change. The planetarium staff can also import and display proteins including DNA strands from an online database, and an earth and climate database can be used to show jet stream or volcanic activity.

As a complement to Undiscovered Worlds the museum created the long-term exhibit Cosmic Light. Visit the exhibit to learn how different wavelengths of light reveal different information about the universe. Other up coming planetarium offerings are:

Rock on Demand (Feb 18): the first of the museum’s “next generation” laser shows, this show lets the audience set a playlist of classic rock music that is then set to laser imagery and full-dome computer graphics.

The Hidden Reality (Mar 2): a talk by Brian Greene, PhD, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and author of The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos.

Moonwalk Mashup (May 4): see an experimental film (Moonwalk) designed for dome planetariums and find out what the future may hold for the galaxy. The evening is capped off with a cocktail reception where you are invited to show off your inspired space-wear or high-tech fashions.

School groups are also invited to book seats for a virtual tour of the cosmos where students will have the opportunity to ask questions and comment on what they have seen. They can also book presentations of the same shows that are being shown to the general public, as well as star shows which are designed to teach students about the night sky.

So sit back in the newly designed angled seats. No more craning your neck to see what’s being projected overhead as you’ll be reclining comfortably throughout the entire show.

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