Explore Universe in the CyberSphere

Release Date: 1/25/2002. Expired: 3/31/2002

Have the same old weekend activities become old news? Does the idea of experiencing something really different like flying through space without a space ship sound like a thrill? Want to promise a loved one the moon and come through, or experience how ancient Polynesian voyagers used the stars to navigate the Pacific?

See the first astronomers discover an ever-growing sky and visit a major planetary science exhibition on Mars in the next few months in The Renaissance Center’s CyberSphere.

The CyberSphere Digital Theatre is a domed facility that features one of the first 360-degree laser projectors in the world. The CyberSphere is a teaching and performance space designed for instruction, live theatre productions, musical concerts, special events, laser light shows, interactive media performances, and educational programs featuring the nighttime sky in the rich tradition of planetaria.

Besides the popular laser shows in the CyberSphere, great new planetarium shows are dawning in the dome.

“Put away your computer games, PS2s and X boxes,” said Stacey Currens, director of the CyberSphere. “This is virtual reality on a grand scale, four stories tall and 60 feet across. This is not just a show, it is a totally new and exciting experience.”

Currently playing through Feb. 23 is 20th Century Universe, which incorporates dazzling special effects focusing on the discoveries and breakthroughs of the 20th century and beyond.

“The 20th century has been one of the most remarkable periods in history,” said Joe Wyatt, assistant CyberSphere director. “Incredible breakthroughs have occurred in almost all areas of our concept of the universe. The CyberSphere will allow you to be a part of those discoveries and for a little while, we’ll make you believe that you can fly through space.”

Beginning the first weekend in March, the planetarium program changes to The Explorers. In this show, experience for yourself how ancient Polynesian voyagers used the stars to navigate the Pacific thousands of years ago. Then try your hand at navigating using the planetarium sky on a voyage from Tahiti to Hawaii.

“This show is really different,” Wyatt said, “beautiful graphics and excellent story-telling.”

Narrated by Charles Kuralt, The Sky Watchers travels with the first astronomers as they discover an ever-growing sky, and current astronomers as they discover an ever-growing universe. See the planets close up and the night sky re-created beginning in May.

The Mars Show is narrated by actor Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation and is a major planetary science exhibition as it explores the planet that has intrigued and inspired astronomers for centuries. Its reddish appearance in the night sky led the ancient Romans to name it after their god of war.

“Mars has played a colorful role in modern culture for the past 100 years, both in science fiction and in science fact,” said Wyatt. “This show is scheduled to begin in July.”

Class field trips, birthday parties, business organizations, scouts or church groups can enjoy personal showings of the following programs throughout the week or whenever a public showing is not scheduled:

Larry Cat in Space is a playful, imaginative presentation for pre-school through third-grade children about an inquisitive cat who takes a trip to the moon. Through Larry’s eyes children can observe his human family, a group of enthusiastic sky watchers.

“Larry notes how human time differs from cat time,” Wyatt said. “Diana takes a job on the moon and sadly leaves Larry behind.”

Wyatt said children can see Larry figure out a way to hide in Diana’s clothes trunk, find himself loaded onto the Space Plane, and soar to Space Station Freedom.

Are we really alone in the universe? Star Trek’s Vulcan Science Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) narrates The Search For Life in the Universe, which explores the possibility of life beyond planet Earth. Eavesdrop on signals from space, delve into emerging solar systems and learn how scientists and amateur astronomers explain mysterious cosmic phenomena.

In Greatest Wonders of the Universe, Jeri Lynn Ryan (Star Trek Voyager, Boston Public) takes visitors beyond the bounds of Earth and out into the farthest reaches of space.

In Season of Light, visitors can discover how many American winter holidays have their roots in the winter festivals of long ago.

Take a Journey to Infinity for a fantastic tour of the Solar System and on to some of the most wonderful sights in the universe.

“Amazing 3D graphics, the world’s only full dome laser system that can produce more than one trillion colors and 14,000 watts of digital surround audio make for an incredible adventure,” Wyatt said.

Pre-school through third grade students will enjoy In My Backyard, narrated by Nickelodeon’s Fred Penner. The sing-along program introduces students to some of the atmospheric and astronomical wonders they can see from their own back yards.

Middle school audiences will learn how their ears work and other aspects of sound in Dr. Fantastic’s Sensational Sound Show. What is the most beautiful noise in the world? Just how much does a bottle of Dr. Fantastic’s famous Ear Growth Tonic cost? Dr. Fantastic has the answers to these and other questions.

“The CyberSphere isn’t just for stars, as visitors will see in this brand new program exploring the science of sound,” said Wyatt.

Finally, grades four through six will participate in the famous PBS television and computer program, Where in the Universe is Carmen Sandiego? The show comes to life in this fully interactive experience. Carmen has stolen the rings of Saturn, and it is up to the gumshoes in the audience to track her down and send her to prison.

Many of these programs are presented for field trips for school students and their teachers, as well as public performances.

Planetarium shows are $5 adults, $3 seniors 55 and over and children under 13. Laser shows are $6 all seats. Discounts of 50 cents are available for groups of 25 or more attending a scheduled planetarium show, and a second laser show on the same day is an additional $1 off.

All CyberSphere programs can be scheduled at alternate times for groups of 25 or more for regular admission price plus a 15 percent special performance fee. Call LeAnn Polk at (615)740-5503 for scheduling information.

For more information on the CyberSphere programs call The Renaissance Center at (615)740-5600.

The Renaissance Center is located at 855 Highway 46 South in Dickson, just 35 minutes west of Nashville on Interstate 40 at exit 172.