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The virtual universe seen in the Hayden Planetarium is based on
actual astronomical observations and computer models of our
galaxy from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA), and the Hubble Space Telescope. The show also
contains data from the European Space Agency's
Hipparcos database of more than one
hundred thousand nearby stars,
as well as from a statistical
database of more than
three billion stars
developed by
the Museum
with other
collaborators.
The National
Center for
Supercomputing
Applications and
the San Diego
Supercomputing
Center contributed
significant computing
and visualization support.
For those sections of the
galaxy for which there is
no data, the Museum constructed
statistical models that were translated
into high-definition computer simulations
of our galaxy and then fully rendered it.
The new Hayden Planetarium is housed in the Hayden
Sphere, a magnificent structure that weighs four million pounds.
The upper hemisphere holds the Space Theater, which contains
the world's largest and most powerful virtual reality simulator.
The theater offers the public a realistic close-up view of planets,
star clusters, and galaxies in an exhilarating journey from the
Earth to the "edge" of the observable universe.

The inaugural show of the Space Theater was titled
"Passport to "The Universe", narrated by Academy
Award winner Tom Hanks. The second Space Show
making its debut Spring 2002 ... "The Search for Life:
Are We Alone ?" is narrated by Harrison Ford.
The MagaZine
The Space Theater uses a customized Zeiss Mark
IX Star Projector. The Dome System, capable of
"flying" audiences through the digital galaxy and
beyond, utilizes a powerful Silicon Graphics
0nyx2 lnfiniteReality visual workstation and a
Trimension video display system that consists
of seven Prodas projectors. The Space Theater
has a 38-foot-high dome and 429 seats. A state-
of-the-art sound system controls the direction of
the sounds, enhancing the perceptions of moving
objects and giving a sense of vibration and "lift off."
The bottom half of the Hayden Sphere houses the Big
Bang Theater, where visual and audio effects narrated
by Maya Angelou dramatically re-create how this side
of the universe began in a burst of radiant energy from
a point smaller than a grain of sand.

A star is born in the cold depths of a dark cloud of interstellar gas and dust.

Photo courtesy of AMNH / SDSC / NCSA

A star is born in the cold depths of a
dark cloud of interstellar gas and dust. The
new Hayden Planetarium Space Show visits the
birthplace of our own solar system in such a cloud.

photo courtesy of AMNH/SDSC/NCSA.
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