How did life on Earth begin? This tantalizing question forms the basis of a magnificent production by the California Academy of Sciences Morrison Planetarium.
Life: A Cosmic Story begins in a redwood forest with the sounds of wind and life. One redwood looms larger, and as we approach its branches and enter one of its leaves, we adjust our perspective to the microscopic scale inside a cell. We see a pared-down version of its inner workings, learning about the process of photosynthesis and the role of DNA. This scene sets the stage for the story of life.
We then leap backward billions of years to the origin of elements themselves. The early Universe contained mostly dark matter, which drew hydrogen and helium together to form the first stars. The carbon and heavier elements required by living organisms came from generations of stars.
We continue our journey, diving into the Milky Way Galaxy as it was several billion years ago. We approach a region in which stars are forming, where we encounter a protoplanetary disk surrounding our newborn Sun. We arrive at the young Earth, splashing down in deep water to visit a hydrothermal vent and to examine the formation of organic molecules. We then travel above a volcanic island to encounter an enriched “hot puddle” of water, in which nucleotides (building blocks of RNA and DNA) may have wrapped themselves in protective vesicles.
The show leaps forward in time, showing the movement of continents and the changing environment for life. Finally, we reach modern Earth, circling the globe to review the evidence for the story we have heard. Much of what we understand about evolution we have pieced together from the fossil record, but we can also reassemble evolutionary history by studying life that surrounds us today.
As we learn that all life shares a common ancestry and common chemistry, we pull away from individual images of life, and we end the show as we see their three-dimensional distribution form the double-helix strand of DNA. The audience is left immersed inside a representation of the structure of life’s shared origins.
Two hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, near the jagged tips of Norway’s crown, the sun does not set for weeks on end during the summer months, and the midnight sun bounces off fields of midsummer snow.
Sami herders call their work boazovázzi, which translates as “reindeer walker,” and that’s exactly what herders once did, following the fast-paced animals on foot or wooden skis as they sought out the best grazing grounds over hundreds of miles of terrain.
An aurora borealis is a natural light display in the sky, especially in the high latitude regions, caused by the collision of solar wind and magnetospheric charged particles with the high altitude atmosphere.
The Finnish name for the northern lights “revontulet” is associated with the arctic fox. According to a folk tale, moonlight is reflected from the snowflakes swept up into the sky by the fox’s tail.
A fulldome show for planetariums and digital dome theaters.
Leo is an educational project about Art and Science, where two techniques are combined, puppets carved in wood and digital animation, with the aim of entertaining children and adults to awake their interest in Art and Science. With Leo and Art we take a journey through the history of Art and learn the basics of some of its most significant moments, such as the beginning of what is meant by art, with cave paintings, the genius of Art and Science of Leonardo Da Vinci and we learn that there is not only one way to see the stars with Van Gogh.
Legends of the Night Sky: Orion is the world’s first traditionally animated fulldome movie. Legends takes an imaginative look at the stories and legends about Orion, the great hunter of the winter sky. It’s ideal for family audiences and younger viewers. Greek mythology will never seem the same once you’ve seen this fun-filled production from AudioVisual Imagineering and Spitz Creative Media.
This work celebrates human intuition and its capacity to image the invisible and sing the inaudible. Immersed in the action, spectators take part in the motions of the cosmos, at once simple and complex, always extraordinarily rich. In this voyage through the world of waves (whose apt title is the Greek word for “wave”), light and sound envelop us and transport us from the infinitely small to the infinitely large — emphasizing, in the middle, the locus of living things.
Embark on a journey back in time and across the Solar System, following the paths of asteroids and comets that have collided with Earth—and those that roam far from home. These ancient objects travel billions of years before reaching Earth, and their impact can be so powerful that just one collision can change the course of life on our planet.
Scientists aren’t waiting for asteroids and comets to come to us to learn more about them — get an up-close look at spacecraft sent to rocky asteroids and icy comets to collect invaluable data. You’ll follow the trek of the Chelyabinsk meteor as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere in 2013 and visualize major shifts in the history of the Solar System billions of years in the making—and all in under an hour.
High above the majestic central California coast rises an enchanted castle, a special place created from the dreams of one man, William Randolph Hearst. His vision was inspired by his many trips to Europe’s finest castles. From this unique blend of European influence rose an architectural masterpiece which Hearst furnished with priceless art treasures from around the world. Hearst Castle: Building the Dream will captivate audiences with Europe’s spectacular architectural wonders, the foundation for the dream that became Hearst Castle.
Living networks connect and support life forms large and small — from colonies of tiny microbes and populations of massive whales to ever-expanding human societies.
In the California Academy of Sciences’ 2015 original planetarium show, Habitat Earth, discover what it means to live in today’s connected world.
Through stunning visualizations of the natural world, dive below the ocean’s surface to explore the dynamic relationships found in kelp forest ecosystems, travel beneath the forest floor to see how Earth’s tallest trees rely on tiny fungi to survive, and journey to new heights to witness the intricate intersection between human and ecological networks.
Narrated by actor Frances McDormand, this 2015 show from the Morrison Planetarium features stunning visualizations of both biological and human-built networks (and of how they intersect), taking show-goers on an incredible, immersive journey through the interconnectedness of life on Earth.
“In Habitat Earth,” says Ryan Wyatt, Director of Morrison Planetarium, “we’re advancing the boundaries of traditional planetarium content, which focuses primarily on astronomy and space.” Instead of looking solely to the stars, the Morrison team is using advanced digital tools and scientific data to tell stories that are uniquely Earth-focused.
The show details the ways humans fit into this ever evolving story of connection. And along the way, audiences will learn more about what we can do to ensure that our cohabitation with the natural world leaves a healthy, sustainable planet for generations to come.
Misrepresented, maligned, and on the verge of extinction, the Great White Shark is an iconic predator: the creature we love to fear. Great White Shark will explore the Great White’s place in our imaginations, in our fears, and in the reality of its role at the top of the oceanic food chain.
Eugene Milkman, nicknamed Milky, is an old robot – a small but strong man – who has been delivering milk for over 800 years on behalf of the company Galaktos. Starting his new tour, he takes Craig McIntosh, a young internship who almost quit going to school, and they both take off for a journey through the Milky Way. Milky evokes the memories of his career while Craig learn more about magnificent cosmic landscapes. From stars to nebulas, this fantastic trip will drive them up to the dreadful black hole hidden at the center of our Galaxy!
Experience the challenges of the next generation of space exploration in this brand-new Planetarium show. By using exciting real-life projects like NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the New Horizons mission to Pluto, the show highlights the extreme nature of spacecraft engineering and the life cycle of a space mission — from design and construction to the rigors of testing, launch, and operations. Blast off and take the voyage with us!
Develop a renewed appreciation for our fragile planet through the lens of astronomy as Sigourney Weaver guides audiences on an immersive excursion that explores a universe filled with the possibility of life.
Fragile Planet starts with an astronaut’s view highlighting Earth’s unique regions. The journey then continues to the Moon, Mars, and beyond the Milky Way to search for habitats that might host extraterrestrial life. The show’s theme — that Earth is the only known haven for life, and thus is important to protect — echoes the themes of biodiversity and sustainability.
The foundation of the show lies in scientific visualization, utilizing observed data as the starting point for the imagery. More than three dozen researchers and institutions provided data in support of Fragile Planet; their contributions range from high resolution satellite imagery of Earth to the positions of galaxies more than 50 million light years away.
From the three-dimensional terrain of Valles Marineris on Mars to the locations of extrasolar planetary systems in interstellar space, everything audiences see in Fragile Planet is based on astronomers’ best understanding of the universe. Scenes requiring extrapolation from known observations were developed with the assistance of researchers with expertise in the relevant topics.
Fragile Planet was written and produced by the visualization studio of the California Academy of Sciences. For two sequences in the show, they collaborated with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The spectacular visuals are augmented by an evocative, multi-dimensional sound environment by renowned giant-screen composer Michael Stearns.
Fermentation is the theme of this work of dome art, produced with the help of choreographers and contemporary dancers. The phenomenon of fermentation is one in which tiny microorganisms, invisible to the naked eye, enable life to flower its hidden potential after death. This work abstracts this invisible phenomenon through dance, and expresses the creativity and energy that lies beyond death. If the living body of a dancer represents ‘life,’ the body of the dancer seen on film embodies ‘death.’ The body of the dancer, appearing amid the darkness of the dome, evokes not only death but also what lies beyond: the birth of a new life.
The impulse to strike out into the unknown, to see what’s over the horizon is as old as humanity. Today, a whole new horizon beckons. Scientists now believe that our galaxy is filled with solar systems, including up to 9 billion Sun-like stars with planets similar to Earth.
Astronomers are racing to find habitable worlds, including any that might exist in the neighborhood of our Sun. But if we find one, how will we ever get there? How long will it take? What rocket designs might one day conquer the voids of space?
Faster Than Light! The Dream of Interstellar Flight will dazzle audiences with virtual rides aboard spacecraft of the future. They are based on whole new technologies designed to achieve ultra-high speeds, using exotic next generation rocket fuels and breakthrough concepts in physics. How far can our technology take us?
ExoPlanets: Worlds Of Wonder follows mankind’s first space probe as it journeys outside our solar system to the many new worlds astronomers are discovering beyond. Audiences will visit gas giants caught in a deadly dance with their host stars, frozen rogue planets hurling through space, molten rocky worlds now known to science, and new planets drifting comfortably within the Goldilocks Zone.
ExoPlanets: Worlds Of Wonder covers the National Earth and Space Science Standards for grades K-9, not only educating about other worlds, but also teaching audiences about how special Earth and our solar system truly are. It combines the best of hand-crafted animation with state-of-the-art visual effects to educate audiences in a fascinating way.
Dr. Geoffrey Marcy, world-leading astronomer in Extra Solar Planet Discoveries, described the screenplay as, “Absolutely glorious. It artfully captures the science, the beauty, and the wonder of the new worlds we are discovering.”
Travel through space and time in a fulldome production that makes you look at Earth in a whole new way.
A sweeping geological journey, Earthquake: Evidence of a Restless Planet explores the forces that transform the surface of our planet.
Fly along the San Andreas Fault before diving into the planet’s interior. Journey back in time to witness the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and the break-up of Pangaea 200 million years ago. Visit the sites of historical earthquakes from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean.
Learn how scientists and engineers collaborate to help society prepare for a safer environment — and a safer future.
Data-driven visualizations illustrate Earth’s story, revealing how subtle motions and sudden ruptures have shaped our planet over eons — and how geological activity influences the course of human history.
Earthquake: Evidence of a Restless Planet was written by Ryan Wyatt and produced by the visualization studio of the California Academy of Sciences.
Dynamic Earth explores the inner workings of Earth’s great life support system: the global climate. With visualizations based on satellite monitoring data and advanced supercomputer simulations, this cutting- edge production follows a trail of energy that flows from the Sun into the interlocking systems that shape our climate: the atmosphere, oceans, and the biosphere. Audiences will ride along on swirling ocean and wind currents, dive into the heart of a monster hurricane, come face-to-face with sharks and gigantic whales, and fly into roiling volcanoes.