Located within the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado, Gates Planetarium offers an accurate and realistic view of the whole universe. Its advanced technological infrastructure conveys science stories and helps visitors get a feel of the universe.
This 125-seat planetarium features semi-reclining, unidirectional stadium seating, a metal dome that is 56 ft in diameter and slanted 25 degrees, 16.4 surround-sound system with a 3D spatial sound system, and images from research institutions such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In May 2001, Gates Planetarium went through a major facelift, removing the theater-in-the-round seating, the Minolta star projector and the70-odd projectors. These were replaced by space theater experience and digital technology. The new Gates system is capable of generating up to five billion stars for every presentation.
Through the projection, sound and seating orientation, viewers are taken into the universe, as these elements all add up to a virtual reality and engrossing space theater experience.
The project came into reality after four years of development, covering contributions from various museum committees and consultants, as well as advances in A/V control and video technology. Its PC-based VR model allows the system to facilitate the constant upgrading of the hardware, and allows for focus on the content. Since NASA utilizes digital technology, images taken from the Hubble telescope can be utilized in the planetarium without the need to reformat them for a different type of technology. This guarantees a constant flow of data and new images to be used in educational presentations and shows.
Gates Planetarium presents shows seven days per week and 14 times a day, with the premier show being fully automated. The venue makes use of multichannel video, and each planetary system is under a Crestron control.
Current shows at Gates Planetarium are Journey to the Stars, featuring amazing images taken from telescopes in space and on the ground; Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity, showing the death of a star and the emergence of a black hole and incorporating innovative science, Einstein’s theories and mathematical equation; and The Little Star That Could, an animated program suited to young audiences.
The Gates Planetarium is indeed a great addition to the AAM-accredited Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a science and natural history museum and a top resource for science education. The museum serves over 42,000 families and provides science education to over 1.6 million people. Aside from the planetarium, this 500,000 sq-ft museum also houses permanent exhibits and Phipps IMAX Theater.