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Worlds Beyond Earth at the American Museum of Natural History
January 20, 2020 Destinations

It may be the 150th anniversary of the American Museum of Natural History, but we’re getting the present! Hayden Planetarium’s new Space Show, “Worlds Beyond Earth,” opens on Tuesday, January 21st.  Narrated by Lupita Nyong’o, Worlds Beyond Earth is a celebration of how far humans have gone in our 50 years of space exploration, how much we’ve learned, and how far we’ve come in our ability to interpret what we’ve seen.

Lupita Nyong’o: Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o is the narrator of 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). D. Finnin/© AMNH

The show is a combination of actual images taken by our space craft and computer generated simulations based on data collected by our robotic explorers. The leaps and bounds we’ve taken in computer sciences is also mindboggling.  We are able now to translate data into images.

Saturn’s rings: Visualizations based on 13 years of data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will show viewers Saturn’s impressive, swirling rings like never before: bubbling with moonlets—house-sized baby moons—that form through a process that scientists think may parallel planet formation in the solar system. © AMNH

Thanks to Worlds Beyond Earth, I now understand why it is that Earth is the planet that spawned humans and why it is impossible for the moon landing to have been faked. It also gives a plausible explanation of where we’re headed if we don’t get greenhouse gases under control here (hint:  Venus).  The irony of why the planet closest to the sun is freezing cold now makes sense, too.

Mars: Worlds Beyond Earth audiences will experience the dry and dusty landscape of Mars based on high-resolution global maps from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Global Surveyor, and ESA’s Mars Express. © AMNH

Worlds Beyond Earth is gorgeous!  It is the first show presented (in 8K) in the Hayden Planetarium since the installation of the world’s most advanced planetarium projection system. You will experience the utter blackness of outer space and the rich colors of the objects in space in a way that hasn’t been possible before now.

This is a flash-free picture of Earth that I was able to take with my cell phone during the show. I believe this is an actual image of Earth.

Earth during the Worlds Beyond Earth show at the American Museum of Natural History © George M. Gensler

If my camera can get a picture like that, you can imagine how impressive the real show is.  Here is a picture of Jupiter and Io, provided by the American Museum of Natural History.

Jupiter and Io: Jupiter’s moon, Io (right), is the most volcanically active object in the solar system despite being covered by ice. © AMNH

The visuals are stunning!  When they showed Earth’s technosphere (the network of satellites circling Earth so we can use our technology), I was stunned! This picture, from the American Museum of Natural History, shows a cross-section of Earth with the magnetic fields (red) and technosphere (green) surrounding it.

Earth dynamics: Earth is surrounded by a strong magnetic field—powered by its hot, churning outer core, which is visualized in Worlds Beyond Earth—that forms a shield that deflects solar wind and protects our atmosphere. © AMNH

Hayden Planetarium is part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Worlds Beyond Earth is the result of a collaboration between the American Museum of Natural History, the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and the Hayden Planetarium.

Disclaimer:  I am not a scientist and know every little about space, except that it is beautiful and wondrous.  Any errors in this article are mine and the result of my misunderstanding or misrecording of the information I received from Hayden Planetarium. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on instagramtwitter and “like” our facebook page too.

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