Last week I had the privilege to visit Adler Planetarium and talk to the brains behind the interfacing of Adler Planetarium, the Worldwide Telescope (WWT) and Kinect. When it’s complete it will be showcased in the Grainger Sky Theater which was just renovated and upgraded. Adler, once the first planetarium in the western hemisphere, is now the most technologically advanced in the world. Kinect will be used to control the WWT in the new theater and, hopefully over time, many exhibits that visitors will be able to use and learn from. Brilliant!
Michelle Yehling, Dr. Mark SubbaRao and Jonathan Fay talked to me for over an hour and shared plans and insight about how they are using technology to demonstrate, teach and research the cosmos. I can’t thank them enough!
Jonathan Fay of Microsoft Research, Dr. Mark SubbaRao, me (not a Dr. Mark) and my sister Michelle (Nichols) Yehling right after the recording of the podcast.
That’s me in the background talking to Mark and Jonathan – unfortunately, Michelle got cut out of this pic. I am literally sitting inside of the “Mini Dome” where they test various displays of the night sky. It’s about 15 feet across and we affectionately called it “The Cone of Silence”. You can see Saturn being shown on the dome while we were talking. How’s that for “atmosphere”?
Listen to the podcast:
Below are a few pictures I took several weeks before the Grainger Sky Theater was finished. It was a great opportunity to see some of the upgraded technology.
The floor contains multicolor LED’s that are controlled by playing a video. Whatever color the corresponding video pixel is, that’s the color of the LED in the floor. Simple to use and very effective.
The entire theater has been redone. They say the last time the walls were that bare, it was the late 1920’s when the planetarium was built.
Also, while I was there my sister (who works there and got me in) and I experienced an audio check. Several thousand watts pumping out Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. How cool and appropriate is that?
20 super-high res/high contrast projectors around the room generate over 8000 pixels horizon to horizon.
Definitely something to see (and hear)!