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Space Technology

Inside the World's Most Advanced Planetarium 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the laser-floyd-will-never-be-the-same dept.
notthatwillsmith writes "Earlier this month, the most technologically-advanced digital planetarium in the world opened in San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences. The new Morrison Planetarium's 75-foot screen replaces the traditional Zeiss projector with an array of 6 high-resolution DLP projectors arrayed around the edge of the theater, which are powered by three very different, but interesting computing clusters. The three clusters allow for projection of traditional planetarium shows, playback of ultra-high resolution movies, and display of anything from current atmospheric conditions on Earth to a (greatly accelerated) trip to the farthest reaches of the universe, all rendered in real-time on an 8800 sq. ft. dome. Maximum PC went on a behind the scenes tour with the engineers who built the systems that do everything from run the planetarium lights to the sound systems to the tech behind the screen to show you how it works and what it's like to drive, well ... the universe."
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Inside the World's Most Advanced Planetarium

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  • Re:Home version (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @11:01PM (#25477913)
    Search amazon for "star projector". I think a ~$100 quiet mini planetarium projector with good resolution, field of view and black levels would be amazingly better for this task. I kind of doubt they can correct for non-spherical rooms, but who knows.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @11:12PM (#25477975)

    I love the Academy of Sciences and the old planetarium. Been going there since the 80's. Needless to say I was thrilled to be there when the new facility opened.

    It is not a planetarium. It is an IMAX movie. You sit, watch a film, and leave. There is no talk about constellations, or where in the sky you should look to see features. The movie has a lot of narration about saving the environment, man-made waste products, deforestation, and other topics completely unrelated to the solar system. In fact a large chunk of it is devoted to discussing extra-terrestrial life and the size of solar system as far as man has explored it.

    This falls in line with the new Academy of Sciences which is no longer about science, it's a marketing experience. There are a zillion gift shops with toys but NO BOOKS. I was amazed about how much historical and scientific material is completely missing from the new building.

    They are selling a fun experience for kids that is short on science, short on education and high on "fun". It's something a Great America or Disneyland designer would come up with. I'm sad to see the old one go and disappointed the new one took the easy way out.

    The old Academy of Sciences made science FUN. This one is entirely forgettable and you won't leave it knowing any more than you did coming in. It's a perfect trip for the family, but do yourself a favor and check out the Exploratorium if you to do right for your kids.

  • Re:Home version (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lysergic.acid (845423) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:19AM (#25478329) Homepage

    i know you were joking, but we actually had that when i was a kid.

    back when i was in 1st~3nd grade my parents and i lived in a rural part of Taipei (Taiwan) in my Grandma's house along with my uncles and their families. it was a traditional clan home, so my parents and i shared a single large bedroom, as did each of my uncles' families. each bedroom was sorta like a single-room apartment, so most of my uncles had TVs in their rooms, and one of them even had a home theater setup complete with a professional grade sound system.

    we'd just moved back to Taiwan so aside from the bed, all we had was an old 386 (ok, it wasn't really "old" at the time) running DOS. consequently, our bedroom was pretty spartan (read: ghetto) compared to the rest of the house. and since our bedroom was in the interior of the house, we didn't have any outside windows for direct sunlight. so my dad decided to have a "sunroof" installed right above our bed, which provided natural lighting during the day, and so that at night we could look up and see the stars.

    my cousins and i stayed up many nights sitting under that sunroof with a bunch of snacks bought from the local 7-11 just enjoying the night sky.

  • by Tjeerd (976354) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @02:40AM (#25479053) Homepage
    Perhaps it's interesting to see an oldskool planetarium built in the 1770's inside the house of the Frysian guy named Eise Eisinga []. You can see some pictures here [] of the inside of his house and the planetarium.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen