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Inside the World's Most Advanced Planetarium

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the laser-floyd-will-never-be-the-same dept.

Space 133

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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Attention spans (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25477643)

Not very interesting to today's kids unless there be lazer flashes and starships goin' round.

Re:Attention spans (4, Funny)

colourmyeyes (1028804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477665)

...said every generation ever.

Re:Attention spans (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25477679)

Not very interesting to today's kids unless there be lazer flashes and starships goin' round.

And Pink Floyd.

Re:Attention spans (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477867)

Or a brainwashing machine that gets you free child labor.

Re:Attention spans (1)

tjscott (1122845) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478139)

That's a plane'arium, not a planetarium

Re:Attention spans (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478189)

actually it was only the guy running the slave labor that coun't say planetarium due to his disability of not bewing able to say the t in planetarium.

Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (5, Informative)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477687)

This thing sounds expensive. I wonder if this ended up costing more than the $3,000,000 that the Alder Planetarium payed for it's high-tech projection system.

When, in a recent debate, McCain was reaching for an example of ridiculous pork that he demonstrates spending that's run out of control, he mentioned this as a paradigmatic waste of money: "Three million dollars for a (heh heh) projector." See the story here [about.com] .

Be glad he doesn't read Slashdot!

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25477753)

McCain can read?!

McCain is an idiot (0, Troll)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477863)

Like a monkey, he is running out of feces to throw @ Obama.
I'm waiting for the obligatory "and he fathered an illegitimate black baby too."

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477895)

I was seriously annoyed when I saw that. It is perfectly legitimate to argue that federal money shouldn't(or should) be spent on planetarium hardware; but describing a planetarium projection system as an "overhead projector" is seriously pushing the bounds of honesty. If you think that educational hardware is a bad use of federal money, fine, come out and say so; but don't set up a ridiculous strawman(actual overhead projectors cost less than $500, anybody would be stupid to pay $3,000,000).

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478007)

I was seriously annoyed when I saw that. It is perfectly legitimate to argue that federal money shouldn't(or should) be spent on planetarium hardware; but describing a planetarium projection system as an "overhead projector" is seriously pushing the bounds of honesty. If you think that educational hardware is a bad use of federal money, fine, come out and say so; but don't set up a ridiculous strawman(actual overhead projectors cost less than $500, anybody would be stupid to pay $3,000,000).

Damned right on every count. He's now running scared and grasping at any straw that shows up. With this BS, he is either catastrophically misinformed, or stunningly disingenuous. I suspect the latter.

How can this asshole condemn his opponent's inexperience when Obama has a fully-qualified running mate? Shit, if her executive experience is being governor of a state with a smaller population than Obama's district as a representative, my little sister is better qualified.

Also, how can the dizzy bitch say something like she did the other day when she declared the places they were campaigning to be "pro-USA"? So the rest of the US is populated with anti-US forces??? What consummate hubris. For that statement alone, McCain should have dumped the dumbshit off the ticket and run alone -- VP TBA.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479121)

but... unless McCain and Palin win, what will we professional comedians do for material for the next four years?

Ok, I'm in pre-sales, but it's the same line of work.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (2, Insightful)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479971)

They will make fun of the other guy. Making fun of presidents is a party neutral national past time.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (4, Insightful)

speaker4thedead (193887) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478067)

Since when were the presidential debates about honesty?

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478213)

Let's be a bit more honest here. He did mention that it was for a planetarium the time I seen him mention it. If you can't put 2 and 2 together to get what he was talking about it probably didn't matter what he called it.

Secondly, for all the bitching and moaning I see going on around here about space exploration being a drain funds for fattening up the poor, I find it odd that most slashdotters don't see they value in buying a couple thousand PCs and copies of Starry Night Backyard for each one of them for 3 million. It does a hell of a lot more than any projector would and get used by more kids for more than just putting light dots on a dome. I don't think it's anti-education but questioning where the money could be better spent. Is 3 million really needed for a projector? Is that really as low as we can go for a reasonably solid projector?

I think the planetarium, just like the public library, is becoming more and more outmoded by the home PC.

They may not be dead yet, but they're well on their way.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (4, Insightful)

skam240 (789197) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478807)

"He did mention that it was for a planetarium the time I seen him mention it. If you can't put 2 and 2 together to get what he was talking about it probably didn't matter what he called it."

I disagree. He chose the wording projector specifically because it implies a cheap device and therefore enforces the idea that this is wasteful spending. Plus, by questioning an institution devoted to intellectual pursuits he gets to attack those darn intellectuals modern Republicans seem to hate so much.

"Secondly, for all the bitching and moaning I see going on around here about space exploration being a drain funds for fattening up the poor, I find it odd that most slashdotters don't see they value in buying a couple thousand PCs and copies of Starry Night Backyard for each one of them for 3 million."

You seem to be implying that spending money making sure American's aren't living in absolute poverty (thus reducing the chances that their children become criminals) is more important than a space station that could easily be replaced by cheap unmanned satellites and a major push by NASA to go back to the moon to address our insecurities in regards to China's proposed landing there decades after we have. Is that correct or am I missing something?

"I think the planetarium, just like the public library, is becoming more and more outmoded by the home PC."

Have you ever seen a young child at a planetarium? Especially an academically inclined one? I can think of few better ways of addressing the United State's lack luster performance in turning out scientists and engineers than to expose children to stuff like this. We are a long ways off in home PC technology in instilling the awe of the universe that a planetarium can provide.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25481341)

I disagree. He chose the wording projector specifically because it implies a cheap device and therefore enforces the idea that this is wasteful spending. Plus, by questioning an institution devoted to intellectual pursuits he gets to attack those darn intellectuals modern Republicans seem to hate so much.

You know what, it's a shame that you didn't get modded troll for this crap. And that's exactly what it is, crap. First you start off basically stating that you know his motivation behind something when clearly you don't. Secondly, most people would use the word projector for the unit because that's what it is. That's the accepted term for it and there are thousands of references made to that exact term in relation to a planetarium by doing a simple Google search. This isn't a made up term. If anything your line about Republicans hating intellectuals is a vastly more bogus statement than McCain calling it a projector. If you really held any value in what you said you'd be honest and admit that it's YOU who are wrong.

You seem to be implying that spending money making sure American's aren't living in absolute poverty (thus reducing the chances that their children become criminals) is more important than a space station that could easily be replaced by cheap unmanned satellites and a major push by NASA to go back to the moon to address our insecurities in regards to China's proposed landing there decades after we have. Is that correct or am I missing something?

Actually what you are missing is making a singular point. You've brought up several possibilities and I have different thoughts on all of them. Do I think we're wasting money on the poor? Yes. Do I think they should get nothing? Not at all. My problem with the way the welfare system handles the hard luck cases of society is that there is, or at least was, no control on the poor's ability to be wasteful and counterproductive. Not to sound like the proverbial old man telling you to keep off his lawn but I don't think a non-productive member of society should be able to buy cigarettes and oreo cookies on my dime. A chance to live in dignity? Sure. A chance to have an education if it bears merit? Sure. But when I was a student I worked at a grocery store and I seen families eating better than I did with multiple cartons of smokes and a high percentage of junk food. Who paid for my education? Me. That's why I had a job. I didn't get any free ride as my family made too much money but I had to make my own way through school. So don't come off with a holy than thou attitude. I feel bad for the honest welfare recepient who wants to get ahead but finds it difficult but the vast majority of these people have no such aspirations and I'm helping to keep them alive so that I can also pay for their cancer and heart disease treatments. Ain't life grand?

I didn't go to the planetarium as a child. I had a night sky to look at. My interest in astronomy wasn't fostered by people throwing money at me telling me to find a place in life. I did that on my own. If a kid can't look up at the night sky and see the wonder in it all the planetarium isn't going to make a damn bit of difference and you know that as well as I do. So stop making this out to be a pulpit for your political agenda.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25479923)

As much as your second point makes sense there is an important issue that you do not address though.

The goal of a "Science Center" or Planetarium as some see it is not to do the actual educating of the kids in more than a minor way. What is important is to make the kids -interested- in learning -on their own-.

At VilVite in Bergen, Norway the philosophy is to get the kids interested in science and technology by dazzling them with interactive exhibits utilizing the latest technology. The information is easily digestable but with the option to go deeper into the material if you want. The exhibition is there to help remove the shroud of mystery around technology.

And it is working :)

In Norway applications to math and science-based lines of education are now on a steady rise :D

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478309)

but describing a planetarium projection system as an "overhead projector" is seriously pushing the bounds of honesty.

I heard it mentioned in 2 of the debates. The way McCain described it could be interpreted either as a planetarium or an office-style overhead projector (as I remember it). I'll give him the benefit of a doubt, for its not something familiar to most politicians.

More interesting, however, was how Obama handled it. In my opinion, Obama's approach was brilliant: he *ignored* the point both times. Most listeners are probably thinking, "If a planetarium projector (with possible educational value) is the worse pork McCain can site, then he's wasting time fussing about nitty little things when we are teetering on a potential repeat of the 30's."

Knowing when to shut up is an important campaign skill (and one lost on Biden apparently :-). Obama let McCain happily eat himself rather than get caught up in tit-for-tat over that.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (2)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478403)

I'll give him the benefit of a doubt...

Well, depending on what you think he thinks it means, you have to characterize him as either dishonest or stupid. When you say you'll give him the benefit of the doubt, I'm wondering which one of those you consider to be the benefit of the doubt.

Unfortunately, I'm having a lot of these moments with McCain. He's constantly saying things that make me think he's either trying to pull one over on people, or he's actually stupid enough to believe it himself. I don't know which is true, but it's really not good either way...

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (2, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478235)

Must you idiots turn every fucking article into an anti-McCain or anti-Obama flamefest? Both popular candidates suck. Get over it. If you really must whine about politics,take it to one of the millions of websites dedicated to that shit. This isn't one of them.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478421)

Must you idiots turn every fucking article into an anti-McCain or anti-Obama flamefest?

You must be new here. Welcome to Slashdot! :D

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478735)

SIgh... Use your mod points.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (2, Insightful)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25480023)

Why don't you use yours? But seriously, I am so tired of all the political BS too. The Parent AND GP are right. I'd say mod down any post that flames either candidate. Throw Bush in there too. We all know his record, what kind of man he is, what kind of man his VP is. We have all already made up our minds. No need to keep harping on it. It serves no purpose.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25480729)

Would you not be pleased to see people on a political website discussing technology?

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 5 years ago | (#25480841)

Don't want people to know where your candidate stands? Then maybe you should admit that your candidate is an ignorant fool.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25480037)

Has anyone been to the digital projection planetarium at the Smithsonian? The thing was UNWATCHABLE. Blurry as hell and WAY out of alignment. Hope this new one is a LOT better for that money.

Re:Shh! Don't tell McCain! He'll go POW on you! (1)

alisson (1040324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25480721)

I believe he continued to say "LOL knowledge is dumb!"

Think of the potential here... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25477699)

Can you imagine how epic the blue screen would be?

But does it have a 3 million projector? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25477721)

Obama wants to pass a law that lets him eat babies. HE'S A SOCIALIST!

Re:But does it have a 3 million projector? (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477839)

Come on, let's be fair: babies are fucking delicious.

Re:But does it have a 3 million projector? (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478025)

i dunno, seems like a modest proposal to me.

Re:But does it have a 3 million projector? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478279)

Agreed. His proposal [gutenberg.org] might indeed be helpful in preventing the children of poor people from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public.

backlit keyboard (0, Offtopic)

colourmyeyes (1028804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477723)

I would like one of the red-backlit keyboards they have in the control room pictures.

Re:backlit keyboard (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477859)

http://www.tg3electronics.com/ [tg3electronics.com] should be able to help you. I don't know if they stock exactly the model pictured, the picture isn't good enough to say; but their Deck Legend Fire [deckkeyboards.com] model looks pretty seriously similar.

It's a trap! (1, Funny)

chenjeru (916013) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477797)

I have a strange bone disease that doesn't let me say the 'T' in plan-e'arium.

Re:It's a trap! (1)

Cypher04 (807337) | more than 5 years ago | (#25481173)

I love the planetarium

Duke Nukem Forever (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25477811)

Wonder if this has the horsepower to run it? Wait....is it PC compatible??

PC compatible?? (1)

bobbonomo (997543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477915)

Quote from the article (I actually read it).

Yep, the planetarium software all runs on Windows XP, with no plans to upgrade to Vista.

WTF? (1)

Farhood (975274) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477991)

FTA:
"We're glad to know that with the real computation work, the engineers here turn to PCs. All of the other exhibits in the Academy are actually run on Mac Minis"

What the fuck is that supposed to mean?!

Re:WTF? (1)

andreyvul (1176115) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478087)

It's supposed to mean that it doesn't run Linux.
Quickly, ACs, start the planetarium bashing!

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478367)

I could install linux on it, bet you any money.

Re:WTF? (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478363)

sadly i think it means that for the most part, off the shelf programers come in PC, not mac.

That is, ... (1)

organum (210431) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477815)

I think you mean "Maximum PC went on a behind-the-scenes tour ..."

Home version (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477819)

I've been thinking of buying a projector for my 3 month old son's bedroom when he's just a little older (I've read their distance vision improves at 8 months). That plus decent planetarium software would let me project the stars on the ceiling for him at night. I've got a spare PC that'd do fine but unfortunately it's over AUD1000 for a semi decent projector (and a few hundred dollars a pop for the lamps - that's the real killer). I can't justify that. Plus it would give me a flat not spherical projection.

I can't think of anything mid way in between those garbage home projectors that project lines on your ceiling for the constellations, and a full blown projector setup.

Re:Home version (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25477899)

I can think of a couple of options for you here.

First, don't worry too much about the flat. That can be fixed in software (as is already done for key-stoning). Although if you can't code your own display software you may indeed be in trouble here.

Secondly for a bedroom at night, you won't really need that bright a bulb. And since the reason for the high cost is for the number of lumens, you might actually be able to cheaper. I know my phone on 'white' will light up bits of the room bright enough to be stars, so maybe some sort of kit starting with a neo and an appropriate lens?

Re:Home version (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Home version (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478569)

The star projectors are what I was referring to when I said garbage sick figure projector. I don't want my son thinking of the constellations as stick figures where the lines can't be turned off.

Re:Home version (5, Funny)

jewelises (739285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477937)

It might be cheaper to just get a glass ceiling.

Re:Home version (1)

billsnow (1334685) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478219)

I know it's a joke, but I suspect it's part of the reason why most planetariums are in cities. I grew up in New Jersey (lots of light and air pollution), and was blown away on my first camping trip in upstate ny.

Re:Home version (1)

jewelises (739285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478599)

I grew up in New Jersey (lots of light and air pollution), and was blown away on my first camping trip in upstate ny.

So what you're saying is that without the pollution it was much more windy?

Re:Home version (4, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478329)

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.

Re:Home version (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478849)

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.

Around the same time you got that slashdot handle?

Re:Home version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478623)

Just be careful talking about your plans around a feminist.

Re:Home version (1)

jewelises (739285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478709)

It might be cheaper to just get a glass ceiling.

... of course, I make this suggestion under the assumption that you've finally moved out of your mother's basement.

Re:Home version (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#25480295)

What, all that trouble to see dead pixels?

Re:Home version (2, Funny)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25481125)

My ceiling is my mother's main floor you insensitive clod!

Re:Home version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478211)

If you're thinking of running a projector all night, it's gonna run you over $100 a year in electricity, not to mention the carbon footprint. As AC said, get a star projector.

Re:Home version (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478601)

If you're thinking of running a projector all night, it's gonna run you over $100 a year in electricity, not to mention the carbon footprint. As AC said, get a star projector.

1. Star projector = garbage stick figure projector.
2. $100/year I'd be willing to spend.
3. Carbon footprint? I'll start worrying about that when people stop buying 1m+ plasma TVs.

Re:Home version (4, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478253)

I use Stellarium (stellarium.org) on Linux on a large (47") TV. It is as cool as a planetarium, with more bells and whistles than you'd need. It works fine on a 32" too.

If what Stellarium ain't enough and I need Imperial cruisers and a Death star here and there, I use Celestia (http://www.shatters.net/celestia/) with some custom add-ons. Extra benefits if you let kids design their own universes.

The third piece is cartes du ciel, but I mostly use that to plan my observations.

Re:Home version (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478931)

I use all 3 bits of software and love them. I also have an old copy of Starry Night Backyard that works nicely (though isn't free software). The issue si I don't have a large screen TV and if I did, I wouldn't put it in the baby's bedroom. A cheap projector would be ideal.

Re:Home version (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479081)

That is true, not every solution is ideal for everyone.

What I did when I was a kid (before software and big screen TVs) was even simpler -- I got one package them phosphorescent paper stars with the sticky backs, painted my ceiling dark blue, and just glued the stars all over the place.

and one day i got a black light lamp ... it was very useful even in highschool, the girls liked it a lot.

you can draw the constellations for extra credit :-D

Good luck with your project, and put it on the web when you're finished.

Re:Home version (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478423)

Or you could take him outside?

Re:Home version (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478577)

Or you could take him outside?

He'll be outside with binocs and a 10" dob when he's old enough. In the meantime I'd like him to grow up with some familiarity of the stars and going to bed to them would be ideal. It's not practical to take an infant outdoors every night.

Sega Homestar Anyone? (1)

Sir_Dill (218371) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478633)

Sega Homestar.

This is not a toy. It was actually designed by the same guy that created those professional star machines that look like some weird alien thing.

It uses an LED so its efficient. It will run you about 300US on ebay. I don't have one, Have never used one. But as a real amateur astronomer I am extremely interested because unlike the cheap "star projectors" the homestar puts white stars on a black background instead of the other way around like most of the cheapies.

It also has timer settings and can do a shooting star if you wish.

Obligatory YouTube Link [youtube.com]
gadgeteer review [the-gadgeteer.com]
I have also read that there is a new version coming out soon that will have stars in the correct colors for stars brighter than magnitude 4

Re:Home version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25480307)

I have found http://worldwidetelescope.org/ [worldwidetelescope.org] quite entertaining.

Re:Home version (1)

zbharucha (1331473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25481617)

Why would you want to subject your son to such torture? Poor kid will not get any sleep what with the humming of the projector and PC and all. What's wrong with those glow in the dark stickers?

The blue screen of death (3, Funny)

andreyvul (1176115) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477841)

would look pretty interesting on a huge spherical screen.
Maybe it can even one-up Beijing's BSoD.

Re:The blue screen of death (1)

strawberryutopia (1301435) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478057)

Well it does appear to be running windows, assuming that the control panel and the main system are one and the same computer.

That's no planetarium... (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477905)

Now this [zeiss.de] is a real planetarium!
I know, because I have worked in many of the world's [haydenplanetarium.org] best [griffithobs.org] known [mos.org] planetariums [fi.edu] .

The technology behind this is quite impressive (4, Informative)

KingArthur10 (679328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477931)

The planetarium that I work at is also considering using the Uniview [scalingtheuniverse.com] system. We currently use the Konica Minolta's single-projector MediaGlobe I/II [mediaglobe...tarium.com] system. It provides wonderful visuals and interactivity in our galaxy, but sadly, its intergalactic abilities aren't nearly up to what the Uniview can do. For those wishing to dabble a bit in the technology behind Uniview, though, check out the free Digital Universe [haydenplanetarium.org] .

Awesome, but... (0)

Kratisto (1080113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25477933)

can it run Crysis? And can you imagine playing Far Cry 2 on a planetarium's 'screen'?

How about real time satellite imagery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25477957)

I want a planetarium that has google earth, but using realtime satellite imagery.

And then I want a laser pointer that actually controls a giant space laser. Not powerful enough to kill people or vaporize objects, I just want to paint a big red circle on them.

Think of the advertising possibilities! And the research possibilities of course.

Re:How about real time satellite imagery? (1)

Loko Draucarn (398556) | more than 5 years ago | (#25481593)

I'd personally like one running Celestia [shatters.net] .

The laser would be a nice touch, too, so I could write my name on the moon.

It is not a planetarium (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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:It is not a planetarium (5, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478371)

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.

You see the fruit not of amusement park designers but of decades of educators trying to make education 'fun' rather than educational.

It is not a fun-house. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478913)

Fun would be playing Galactic Empire or Homeworld on this setup. Anyway the setup does have the potential to be educational AND fun (not diametrically opposed goals).

Re:It is not a planetarium (1)

Petaris (771874) | more than 5 years ago | (#25480645)

I work for a K-12 school District and that is dead on especially in the elementary. They watch TV, play games, play one the computer, and now they are installing even more "learning" software on the computers so they have to teach even less. Education is just getting sad. And at the Middle school and High School you can replace that with sports. Academics isn't just in the back seat, its in the trunk. :(

Futurama (1)

thepotoo (829391) | more than 5 years ago | (#25481189)

Oh really? I don't see you with a fungineering degree.

Re:It is not a planetarium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478409)

but if your kid comes out of it and wants to learn more about the skys/stars/galaxy, because it was so fun, it's done its job, no?

Re:It is not a planetarium (1)

Daikiki (227620) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479063)

There are a zillion gift shops with toys but NO BOOKS.

There are three. With books. There are also aquariums, tidal pools, ant colonies, Darwin's finches, Foulcault's pendulum. A library. Labs with great big plate glass windows. Skulls. It's a museum. With science.

Get over yourself.

Re:It is not a planetarium (2, Insightful)

Stephen (20676) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479641)

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.

I've been to the show, and I don't think this is a fair criticism. As well as being visually spectacular, I thought it gave a reasonable overview of the universe from the earth outwards.

I was put off by the title of the show (Fragile Planet), but actually it had far less boring environmental preaching than I imagined. Most of it was about exoplanets and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. My one complaint would be that it got a bit speculative, even if it's based on the best science that we have at this time.

It sounds to me like you have a rather narrow view of what is acceptable subject matter for a planetarium. Admittedly if I were writing it for Slashdotters, I would have gone into a bit more depth. But for a general audience, I thought it was actually pretty good and not too "dumbed down". I was pleasantly surprised.

Good new museum. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478009)

Very nice. I've been waiting for the crowds to decline a bit so I can see the new museum without being run over by mobs of kids. It's good that people are actually going. Few went to the old California Academy of Sciences Museum, with dusty dioramas from the 1930s.

There is another, possibly operational sooner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478027)

http://www.odyssium.com/mzt.htm

I went to this one in the beginning of the summer.

But is it in stereoscopic 3D? (2, Informative)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478269)

Like the little planetarium in my town [imiloahawaii.org] ?

Is this really so unique? (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478365)

There's one just like this in Milwaukee already, in the museum in town. I went about a year ago.

Planetarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25478415)

But its still not advanced enough. They need robot planetarians! Did they at least name the projector Miss Jena?

Mcplanetarium (1)

eronysis (928181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478469)

Seems like an awfully expensive overheard projector to me.

Re:Mcplanetarium (1)

InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479207)

Except that it seems to do relativistic calculations in real time of the objects you are viewing and probably has a huge star/object database. So, you would need a fast processor/large storage as well as a fast and high-definition projector.

Probably a bargain if it can get kids to see this stuff in action. It is hard to really conceptualize this sort of thing in your head when you are mechanically doing paper calculations (with only equations or simplified 2D diagrams that look/act nothing like the real thing) for assignments in secondary school/university. More people knowing intuitively what is going on physically when scientific words are tossed around can only be a good thing.

In time, things like this planetarium might even pay for themselves several times over with new discoveries leading to new inventions, etc.

Most advanced? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 5 years ago | (#25478797)

I wonder what makes this more advanced than, say, the Beijing planetarium driven by six SGI IR4 pipes.
A quick look through the article doesn't impress - well not from a hardware standpoint anyway. What did I miss?

oldskool planatarium of Eise Eisinga (3, Interesting)

Tjeerd (976354) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479053)

Perhaps it's interesting to see an oldskool planetarium built in the 1770's inside the house of the Frysian guy named Eise Eisinga [wikipedia.org] . You can see some pictures here [jusonline.nl] of the inside of his house and the planetarium.

They're kidding surely? (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479107)

"We're glad to know that with the real computation work, the engineers here turn to PCs. All of the other exhibits in the Academy are actually run on Mac Minis "

so what's wrong with a Mac Mini? are they incapable of doing real computation work?

Re:They're kidding surely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25479765)

Yes. Have you looked at the specs?

Ahww, crap (2, Funny)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479147)

My new state-of-the-art home theatre has been made obsolete by something better *already*? Upgrading time...

real-time? (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#25479895)

trip to the farthest reaches of the universe, all rendered in real-time

Life's too short...

Japanese 4D2U system is even better (2, Informative)

StupendousMan (69768) | more than 5 years ago | (#25480777)

The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, in Mitaka, has a system called "4D2U" set up in a small building. It features dome about 20 meters wide with (if I recall correctly from my visit in the spring) 11 or 13 projectors. Most of the projectors face in one particular direction, the same direction which the seats face, so that the resolution and color balance are highest where people are looking. The team at Mitaka has written their own software to do real-time motion through space and time; it looks a lot like Celestia, and may be based in part on it.

You can see details and download code for your own use by going to

http://4d2u.nao.ac.jp/index_E.html [nao.ac.jp]

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