“We are mapping the grand structure of the Universe, tracing its ancient past, finding our place in its great story. We are becoming citizens of the cosmos.” – Tom Hanks, Passport to the Universe
What is our place in the cosmos?
Philosophers and scientists alike have tried to answer this age-old question. The ancient Greek and Indian philosophers believed that the Earth was at the center of the Universe. Over the centuries astronomy gradually evolved and by 1543 Nicolaus Copernicus had published his model of the Universe in which the Earth revolved around the Sun in our Solar System. This heliocentric view replaced the old geocentric notion, a revolutionary concept for its time. However, it would take modern astronomical observations and space exploration to reveal the vastness and complexity of the Universe and our true place in it.
This is no imaginary excursion into the universe
Passport to the Universe an immersive show narrated by Tom Hanks at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium answers this fundamental question as it takes the audience on a stunning virtual journey through the Universe. Make no mistake. This is no imaginary excursion or an artist’s rendition projected onto a screen. Based on the latest scientific discoveries this documentary film produced by the American Museum of Natural History, New York in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco utilizes spectacular astronomical images and information from the most recent space missions to provide a fascinating explanation of cosmology. Highlights include a voyage from our Solar System to the far corners of the Universe that lets the viewer see the transition from the two-dimensional starry sky of our Milky Way Galaxy to three-dimensional interstellar space with its billions of stars and billions of galaxies.
We are not the center of the Universe
“We are living in the golden age of astronomy,” Hanks says. “We are completing the space reconnaissance of our Solar System. We are using other kinds of light to observe the life cycles of stars and galaxies, revealing wonders never before visible.” In this remastered version of Passport to the Universe Hanks draws parallels between our coming of age as individuals and as a society. “There comes a time in each of our lives when it first dawns on us that we are not the center of the Universe, that we are part of something larger than ourselves,” he says. “As it happens to each of us, so it is happening to our civilization right now.”
At a time when there is increasing concern about life on our planet Passport to the Universe helps us step back and see the bigger picture of the Earth in all its splendor and fragility in a magnificent Universe.
For more information about Passport to the Universe at the Planetarium please click here.
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