Friday, September 22, 2023

“Worlds Beyond Earth” fulldome show premieres at American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium Jan 2020

New York City – InPark attended the Jan 14, 2020 press preview of the new fulldome show Worlds Beyond Earth at the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Dedicated to Charles Hayden, Worlds Beyond Earth is a state-of-the-art digital dome (fulldome) science and astronomy showcase, rendered in 8K and designed to fully use the capabilities of the planetarium’s new custom, high dynamic range, true laser projection system developed with technology partner Christie. AMNH ranks in the world’s top 10 most-attended museums (per the TEA/AECOM Museum Index); the Hayden Planetarium is a well established leader in the field and an early adopter of innovative display formats (highlighted by InPark’s landmark first article about fulldome, “Digital Dome-ocracy,” in Issue #19). InPark editor Judith Rubin attended the Worlds Beyond Earth preview. The show opens to the public Jan 21 and is available for distribution.

Introducing Worlds Beyond Earth inside the Hayden Planetarium on Jan 14, Ellen Futter, President of AMNH, called the show an “eye dazzling manifestation of what is now possible from a technical standpoint, making the most of the planetarium’s comprehensive upgrade to the most sophisticated projection system in the world with unprecedented colors and blackest black.”

Ellen Futter, President, American Museum of Natural History. Photo by Judith Rubin

“To work with an industry-leading institution like the Hayden Planetarium has been an honor for Christie,” says Larry Paul, executive director, technology and custom solutions, Christie. “We’re thrilled that Christie Eclipse true HDR, 4K RGB pure laser projectors are enabling the planetarium to display shows, including Worlds Beyond Earth, and astrophysical research in unprecedented detail and color.” The Christie Eclipse projector custom-developed for the Hayden Planetarium has been named to receive a TEA Thea Award for technology.

L to R: Larry Paul, executive director, technology and custom solutions, Christie; Benjy Bernhardt, Senior Director, Electronic Media Engineering and Support, AMNH; Larry Howard, Director of Sales, Entertainment (AMERICAS), Christie. Photo by Judith Rubin

Benjy Bernhardt, Senior Director, Electronic Media Engineering and Support for AMNH, tells InPark: “Since our digital dome project began we have been designing our systems in collaboration with world class manufacturers and system designers, often asking them to think beyond their current designs. The Hayden Planetarium has to accommodate the multiple mandates of providing a premier visitor attraction (the daily public space shows), allowing for educational and research focused activities (special programs and developing software such as OpenSpace), and acting as a production and mastering environment for creation of new immersive dome based content. To serve all these requirements the AMNH team has had to imagine and re-imagine the technical systems to facilitate the vision of our internal creative team, who constantly push the boundaries of what is possible to support the creation of immersive education and mind blowing experiences.”

Bernhardt continued: “Our collaboration with Christie Digital on the Eclipse HDR projector is a case in point of how we have worked collaboratively with leaders it the industry. When we first saw an early Eclipse HDR projector prototype we knew that there was multi-year roadmap to implementing a projection system at the Hayden, but with Christie we had a partner with a common vision of what would be possible with a laser based HDR projection system. The project had technical challenges that required close collaboration between AMNH and Christie to solve, but as a result we have achieved a display that truly creates a new and unique creative palette to tell the stories of science in compelling and beautiful ways.”

Carter Emmart next to the Hayden Planetarium. Photo by Judith Rubin. \

Speaking on the Hayden Planetarium’s new projection system, AMNH Director of Astrovisualization and Worlds Beyond Earth director Carter Emmart shared, “It has the punch and color of laser, with true black and high dynamic range, enabling us to visualize these things as though we were really there.”

According to Producer Vivian Trakinski, the intent of Worlds Beyond Earth was to create an “emotional experience and intellectual journey to engage audiences and open their minds, ready them to take on information. The ability to work with this incredible data heightens the experience.”

She emphasized that the images were from “real data, not animation” and pointed out that “it’s an exciting opportunity for bringing science to the public using authentic resources that can be used for VR and AR as well as theaters. We can put the data together to create a story, show what we know and how we know it.”

L to R: Natalie Starkey (Worlds Beyond Earth scriptwriter) Carter Emmart (AMNH Director of Astrovisualization/Worlds Beyond Earth director), Vivian Trakinski (AMNH Director of Science Visualization/Worlds Beyond Earth producer), Denton Ebel (AMNH Division Chair and Curator, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences/Worlds Beyond Earth curator). Photo by Judith Rubin


Featuring immersive visualizations of distant worlds, groundbreaking space missions, and breathtaking scenes depicting the evolution of our solar system, the American Museum of Natural History’s new Hayden Planetarium Space Show Worlds Beyond Earth, will open January 21, 2020, as part of the Museum’s 150th anniversary celebration. Worlds Beyond Earth takes viewers on an exhilarating journey that reveals the surprisingly dynamic nature of the worlds that orbit our Sun and the unique conditions that make life on our planet possible.

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o narrates Worlds Beyond Earth. Nyong’o’s acclaimed film work includes Us (2019), Black Panther (2018)The Jungle Book (2016), Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015), and 12 Years a Slave (2013), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She is also the narrator for the six-part wildlife docuseries Serengeti (2019).

Worlds Beyond Earth is produced by a team that includes Earth and planetary scientists, science visualization experts, and artists, and was developed using data from sources such as SPICE (Spacecraft Planet Instrument C-matrix Events)—the system used by NASA and other space agencies for designing and documenting solar system exploration missions. With brilliant visualizations shown on the world’s most advanced planetarium projection system, Worlds Beyond Earth whisks viewers away on an adventure across the solar system, from our planetary cousins Mars and Venus to beyond the asteroid belt, where worlds of ice and gas like Saturn, Jupiter, and their moons reveal active volcanoes and buried oceans.

SLIDESHOW (images courtesy AMNH)

While humans have not yet ventured beyond the Moon, Worlds Beyond Earth celebrates the extraordinary Age of Exploration carried out by robotic explorers over the past 50 years. With each probe and spacecraft launched into the unknown, gathering data and sending it back to Earth, scientists have discovered the surprisingly dynamic, active, and varied nature of the worlds that share our solar system, gaining a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of our home planet in the process. How is the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Io—located 800 million kilometers from the Sun—volcanically active? What is the atmosphere like on Saturn’s moon Titan, where showers of liquid methane pelt the surface? In stunningly detailed scenes drawn from real data—including unparalleled visualizations of the alien landscape of Mars and a simulation of the evolution of Saturn’s rings—Worlds Beyond Earth takes viewers on a remarkable journey around our solar neighborhood to explore whether there really is no place like home.

Worlds Beyond Earth is part of the Museum’s 150th anniversary celebration, which officially began in March 2019 and includes a series of events, programs, and exhibitions inspired by the Museum’s legacy of scientific exploration and science education, including the role of the historic Hayden Planetarium in bringing the latest space science to the public. First built in 1935 and named for philanthropist Charles Hayden, the world-famous facility has transported generations of New Yorkers —and their children and grandchildren—to the edges of the observable universe, revealing mysterious cosmic phenomena and nurturing their curiosity about the magnitude and workings of our universe. The new Space Show is dedicated to the memory of Charles Hayden and opens during the 150th Anniversary of the year of his birth.

Worlds Beyond Earth is rendered in 8K and will be the first Museum Space Show to fully utilize the world’s most advanced planetarium projection system, installed this year in the Hayden Planetarium. The first-of-its-kind high-dynamic range (HDR) system displays the widest color gamut of any planetarium in the world, allowing visitors to experience both the darkness of outer space and the most colorful worlds as never before.

Worlds Beyond Earth is curated by Denton Ebel, curator in the Museum’s Department of Earth of Planetary Sciences and chair of the Division of Physical Sciences, who specializes in the study of meteorites, and directed by Carter Emmart, the Museum’s director of astrovisualization and one of the original team members of the NASA-funded Digital Universe and OpenSpace projects, which are continuing to redefine how planetarium theaters present science to the public through immersive data visualization.

Worlds Beyond Earth is produced by Vivian Trakinski, who directs the Museum’s science visualization program, and documentary filmmaker Gavin GuerraRosamond Kinzler, senior director of science education and co-director of the Museum’s Master of Arts in Teaching program, is the executive producer.

Natalie Starkey, a science communicator and geologist who served as co-investigator for science on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission Ptolemy instrument, wrote the script. The score is by Robert Miller, a New York City composer who wrote the music for five previous Museum Space Shows.

Worlds Beyond Earth is the sixth Space Show since the opening of the Rose Center for Earth and Space in 2000, which premiered the first Space Show, Passport to the Universe narrated by Tom Hanks, the same year. Previous Space Shows have included The Search for Life: Are We Alone? (2002), narrated by Harrison Ford; Cosmic Collisions (2006), narrated by Robert Redford; Journey to the Stars (2009), narrated by Whoopi Goldberg; and Dark Universe (2013), narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium.

Worlds Beyond Earth was created by the American Museum of Natural History, the Frederick Phineas and Sandra Priest Rose Center for Earth and Space, and the Hayden Planetarium.

Worlds Beyond Earth is dedicated to the memory of Charles Hayden in celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth and made possible by the generous support of the Charles Hayden Foundation. 

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She reports on design and technical design, production and project management, industry trends and company culture. From 2005-2020 she ran communications and publications for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA and publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association, and has contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has lived in Detroit, New York, Oakland, and now Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts community.

Related Articles

Latest Articles