New Adler theater: out of this world
This morning I joined some other media folk in previewing the Adler Planetarium's new Grainger Sky Theater. The bombastic PR claim of "the most immersive, technologically enhanced theater experience ever developed" turns out to be true. Making quite a leap from its 1970 Zeiss projector, the theater now utilizes 20 projectors hooked up to 45 computers. Chief Technology Officer Doug Roberts told us, “fourteen years ago, this would’ve been the world’s fastest supercomputer.”
Of course, all this is meaningless without interesting content. To create the animation, the planetarium used data sets compiled by NASA staffers and university students. This means, when you're looking at images of the Earth or the Milky Way or the edge of the universe, it's the real deal—not an artist-rendering of the Pink-Floyd-Dark-Side-of-the-Moon sort. "We're trying to trick your brain into feeling like it's in space," said Roberts. Mission accomplished.
The planetarium created a new sky show, Deep Space Adventure, that utilizes the theater's technology. I have yet to see it—but if the stock footage is any indication, it will be well worth a visit. Screenings begin July 8 and run about every half hour daily, and cost $28, kids $22 (includes admission); discounts are available for Chicagoans.