As the 145-seat planetarium at the NJ State Museum re-opens September 12, with the unveiling of a major renovation and technical upgrade, science education makes a quantum leap in the state of New Jersey.
The planetarium now boasts a five-projector, full dome immersive video and digital surround sound system, which provides seamless 360-degree sound and imagery, rousing the senses of viewers with the wonder and awe of the universe.
Secretary of State Nina Wells says, “Visiting audiences are in for a rare experience. Nothing can compare to breathtaking images of the universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Families will have a wonderful time experiencing a sense of awe and discovery together at the planetarium.”
Additionally, Secretary Wells notes that the upgraded video and surround sound systems are just one facet of the exciting educational assets to be found at the State Museum.
The upgrade includes:
A new five-projector, 360-degree hi-definition, hi-resolution immersive video system;
A new surround sound system;
A new computer system to seamlessly tie the sound and images together.
Other attributes that make experiences in this planetarium unusually powerful are:
The ability to integrate special effects, slides, analog, and 3D -laser functionality with the new immersive systems; and
A sloping floor specially designed to give every seat the best possible viewing angle at normal postures, and excellent lines of sight from every seat.
Eric Pryor, director of the NJ State Museum says, “There is a sense of wonder and magic that families and school groups experience when visiting the planetarium. Their journey begins when they pass along a low-light corridor lined with up-to-date exhibits about space and the planetary system,” he expressed. “When they enter the planetarium itself, they stare in wonder at the domed, perforated aluminum screen and the massive central projector. We often have to remind them to take a seat! Then the show begins and visitors are transfixed. To see the wonder in their eyes as they fly through the asteroid belt and look back towards Earth or visit far-flung star systems, is always inspiring to me.”
The renovation and upgrade was funded by a major donation by the Prudential Foundation. Gabriella Morris, president of The Prudential Foundation and vice president of Community Resources for Prudential Financial, says, "Increasing awareness and interest in science and technology are key to a stronger New Jersey. We believe that nothing excites the imagination of young people like a planetarium, especially a newly renovated one. I believe that any child experiencing this facility will be forever changed. Our support for this wonderful new asset reflects our commitment to the future of the state."
Secretary Wells adds, “We established a public-private partnership to fund and support the Museum’s capital campaign, and Prudential Foundation’s major gift is a glowing example of how we can accomplish our goals for the benefit of New Jersey families and school kids by working together.”
While planetarium shows are very reasonably-priced at just $5 for adults (ages 18-61) and $4 for seniors and children, families can enjoy free planetarium shows the second Saturday of each month from September 2009-August 2010, thanks to generous support from the Merck Foundation.
Public Show Times: Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm. The Museum is located at 205 West State Street, Trenton, NJ.
General Admission: The New Jersey State Museum’s Planetarium does not offer advance ticket sales to the public. Show tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis available at the Planetarium box office the day of the show. Free tickets for “Second Saturday” shows are also available on a first-come first-served basis.
Prices: Adults: $5, Child (age 12 and under): $4, groups of 15 or more: $4 per person; Friends of the NJSM receive $1 off per ticket, up to a maximum of four.
School Reservations: For school and community groups, the Planetarium also offers weekday programming annually through June. Advance reservations are required. For more information or to schedule a trip, please call (609) 292-6347.
One World, One Sky -- 1:00 PM & 3:00 PM (40 minutes)
Big Bird's adventure begins on Sesame Street when Elmo's friend, Hu Hu Zhu, visits from China. Big Bird, Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu take viewers on an exciting discovery of the sun, moon and stars. They also learn about the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) and the North Star (Polaris). Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu then take an imaginary trip to the Moon where they learn that the Moon is a very different place from the Earth. When they imagine themselves back on Earth, they celebrate the idea that even though they live in two different countries, they still share the same sky. They even pick the North Star as their friendship star to always remind them of their shared joy of looking up at the sky together. Made possible by the Sesame Street Workshop and the National Science Foundation. Recommended for ages 3-6 with adults.
Extreme Planets -- 2:00 PM & 4:00 PM (40 minutes)
For centuries, humans have wondered whether we are alone in the Universe. Now, we are one step closer to knowing the answer. With the discovery of the first planet orbiting another star, we now know that planets are not unique to our Solar System. In fact, these "extra solar" planets now appear to be quite common. The Planetarium’s inaugural presentation explores what makes a planet "Earth-like" and takes an immersive full dome tour of several worlds that just might fit the conditions we're looking for. From water worlds to molten landscapes, inhabitable moons to planets with multiple suns, these exotic worlds are not just science fiction anymore! Suitable for general audiences.
The New Jersey State Museums serves the life-long educational needs of residents and visitors through its collections, exhibitions, programs, publications and scholarships in science, history, and the arts. Within a broad context, the Museum explores the natural and cultural diversity of New Jersey, past and present. The Museum is located at 205 West State Street, Trenton, NJ. See www.newjerseystatemuseum.org for details or call the recorded information line at 609-292-6464.