Adler Planetarium delivers with new space experience
Out of this world
08/17/2011 10:00 PM
Wow. This tiny word sums up the huge out-of-this-world experience at Adler Planetarium’s new Deep Space Adventure show.
Using advanced digital technology, real scientific data collected from space and storytelling that holds even short attention spans, if Adler’s new movie was any more real you’d actually feel the blast from the explosion as a star is torn apart by a black hole. Or as Adler President Paul H. Knappenberger Jr. said, “It’s the next best thing to flying your own spaceship.”
Adler set out to create an experience for every visitor to become a space explorer, Knappenberger said.
“We wanted to do something different and really push the envelope,” he said. “Our goal was to introduce visitors to places that most of them have no idea even existed in the universe.”
The jewel of that effort is the Grainger Sky Theater. Don’t expect just any ordinary sky show here. The 180-degree dome and special lighting provide a 360-degree experience in ultra-high definition that actually makes you feel like you’re moving — flying on a spaceship through the Milky Way, then all the way back to Chicago and Adler.
“The experience is the sense that you are actually out in space, that you are traveling on the observation deck of the starship and journeying through the universe,” Knappenberger said. “You come across remarkable celestial events. … In one, you visit the center of our Milky Way galaxy and as you’re there looking, a star passes by and gets shredded.”
Entering through the Clark Family Welcome Gallery, kids will be immediately drawn to the four interactive screens. In one, kids can use their hands to guide astronauts floating in space back to their space station. It is in the Welcome Gallery that families will first meet main character of the show — the Searcher.
The Deep Space Adventure screenplay, written by sci-fi author Carl Sagan’s son Nick and narrated by actor Billy Crudup, tells the story of an alien who is searching for the people of his planet. Visitors join him on his spaceship after he finds his own planet abandoned.
The theater, designed just for Adler, has a dome that continues all the way to the floor, while the floor bends up to meet it, much like the shape of a flying saucer. With LED lights embedded in the floor, when the supernova explodes, it goes over your head, to the sides of you, and even underneath your feet.
Following the show, visitors will be directed into a new exhibit gallery that features themes in the show. Kids will especially like the mirrors showing the effects of gravity near a black hole on their bodies and feeling the weight of an ordinary can of soda on Earth, the moon and Jupiter.
Deep Space Adventure is open now, and you’ll want your family to be there. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.