Centered in the Universe (Opening Show)


Scene from "Centered in the Universe"

Scene from "Centered in the Universe"

We often imagine ourselves at the center of things. That includes our place in the universe, ever since the first people looked up at the sky. Even as our scientific observation has shown the cosmos does not revolve around us, our ongoing investigations continue to keep us Centered in the Universe. The premiere show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium uses state-of-the-art all-dome technologies to weave a story that transports audiences from familiar constellations to cosmic destinations beyond everyday experience. Every show is presented by a live, engaging, knowledgeable storyteller, supported by a Zeiss Universarium Mark IX star projector and all-dome digital animation projected through two Digistar 3 digital laser projectors from Evans & Sutherland. Centered in the Universe creates a sense of awe and wonder as it reveals our ever-expanding universe and the changing stories we have told ourselves about our place within it.

The show opens with a glorious sunset projected by the Digistar 3 digital laser projection system and transforms into the most gorgeous, the most awe-inspiring, and the most accurate vault full of stars, all projected by the Zeiss Universarium Mark IX star projector. The live lecturer reminds us that people have always filled the sky with stories to explain the cycles of day and night, the circling of stars in the heavens, and the wandering of planets and to help them feel at home in the universe.

Then stories gave way to scientific theories. Ten minutes into the show, the Zeiss night sky fades to Alexandria, Egypt, circa 140 A.D. Using computer graphics in the immersive, 360-degree wrap-around environment of the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, the audience journeys from astronomer Claudius Ptolemy's Earth-centered universe to Galileo's Sun-centered solar system and on to Edwin Hubble at Mount Wilson Observatory, where he was forging our current view of the universe. Hubble realized the universe is not only incredibly vast but also expanding. Combining advanced technology, imagination, and the skills of astronomical animators, we are able to experience the Big Bang, travel through filaments of clusters of galaxies, and see the ultimate structure of the universe. Even as we scratch the surface of phenomena like dark energy and dark matter, we realize there is still more to be observed and discovered as we return home to the front lawn of Griffith Observatory. We have completed a voyage of evolving cosmic perspective

Show Development

Centered in the Universe is made possible by a unique collaboration between Friends Of The Observatory and the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Both have provided financial support for show development and equipment. In the process, a professional animation studio was created that is producing a planetarium show at a level of excellence that will delight general audiences, scientists, and animation specialists.

Griffith Observatory's own astronomical artist, Don Dixon, directed the show and also co-wrote the script in collaboration with Dr. E. C. Krupp, Director of Griffith Observatory and a renowned expert on ancient astronomy, and Andre Bormanis, story editor for Star Trek Enterprise. Complete production credits for "Centered in the Universe" may be viewed here.