Performing and Visual Arts, The Sciences: Visualization brings them together at the Gates Planetarium
The Gates Planetarium has been open for four years as a digital fulldome theater. Al- though the majority of the public shows are in the form of 20-minute pre-rendered movies, we continue to explore visitor programming of longer duration featuring live presenters. To support these alternative shows, specialized software has been developed in house and by contractors, allowing us to investigate opportunities that would not have been possible in a traditional planetarium. We also continue to em- brace the use of new tools, techniques, and hardware. The ongoing evolution of visualization hardware has enabled significant improvements to be made over the original 2003 installation. Because of these subsequent updates, we are in a stronger position than ever to offer continuing innovation in science education and artistic programs. Our systems now have long-term sustainability, and with each improvement, the potential for expanded programming increases. Although many of the ideas that we have ad- opted are not unique to the Gates Planetarium, collectively they may serve as an example for other digital planetariums and suggest how domed theaters can evolve and stay relevant for the 21st century.