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Largest planetarium in the US opens in New Jersey

The Liberty Science Center now has the country’s largest, most high-tech planetarium.
The Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium will host tours of the universe as well as movies and a laser show. Credit: Liberty Science Center
The Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium will host tours of the universe as well as movies and a laser show. Credit: Liberty Science Center

If there’s one scenario in which size matters, it’s when you’re trying to show the entire known universe on one screen.

The big-deal opening of the year for science nerds is the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, now open at New Jersey’s Liberty Science Center.

Located just 30 minutes from Lower Manhattan, the new planetarium is not only the largest in the country, it’s the fourth largest in the world.

“You can fit any other planetarium in the Western Hemisphere inside the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium,” says Paul Hoffman, the science center’s president and CEO. “Visitors will be able to fly through the universe, experience the grandness and vastness of space, roam planetary surfaces, navigate asteroid fields, and watch the latest full-dome movies.”

At 89 feet in diameter, it dwarfs the American Museum of Natural History’s 68-foot-wide Hayden Planetarium. (They’ve still got Neil DeGrasse Tyson though.)

But size isn’t the only thing that matters. The Chalsty has 88 million pixels, making its resolution is 32 times better than the high-definition TV in your living room, with 10 projectors and a lighting system that can render 281 trillion colors.

All of this fancy tech will come in handy when the planetarium becomes the first place to see a new 3D recreation of the Orion Nebula, the birthplace of new stars and planets.

“Our full-dome, immersive recreation of the Orion Nebula will allow our planetarium visitors to experience what it’s like to travel into the heart of this nebula in a level of detail never before seen,” says Hoffman.

Shows include a 45-minute journey all the way to the edge of space as seen by NASA probes and a half-hour tour of our own solar system, from the valleys of Mars to the methane geysers of Neptune’s moon Triton. At the end of every show, a live astronomer will present the latest astronomy news and discoveries.

The Chalsty will also show two movies, one about life aboard an aircraft carrier and another tracing the history of China. For the holiday season, there’s a themed laser light show.

To welcome its new attraction, the museum is throwing a month-long Cosmic Celebration of space-themed events and exhibits through Jan. 1.

Grown-up visitors get run of the science center every third Thursday of the month for LCS After Dark. The 21+ nights (6-10 p.m.) include drinks, food, music and special events. The next one coming up on Dec. 21 is Science, Sweets & Ugly Sweaters — come dressed in your holiday worst and get bites from local vendors at a $5 night market.

The Liberty Science Center’s 300,000 square feet also include 12 exhibit halls, an aquarium and a 3D theater. It’s also the new home of the traveling Starfleet Academy Experience through May 28, 2018.

Liberty Science Center is located in Liberty State Park, 222 Jersey City Blvd., Jersey City, New Jersey. It’s open Tuesdays through Sundays; admission including a theater show starts at $28.75 for adults and $23.75 for kids. For more information, visit lsc.org/theaters.

 
 
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