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New York Works | Hayden Planetarium's Astrovisualizator

Monday, July 11, 2011

Carter Emmart Carter Emmart (Tracey Samuelson/WNYC)

Carter Emmart is not only in charge of the universe — the eccentric former astrophysics major can spout off the names and positions of stars and constellations upon request.

Emmart is the Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space planetarium — where he directs the planetarium's shows and translates data gathered by NASA and other astrophysicists into highly accurate light shows projected onto its semi-circular dome.

"Well, I loaded the universe," Emmart said on a recent morning as he tested new equipment designed to improve the show's quality. "It takes about two minutes or so."

He hovered over India and then pulled back farther and farther into the universe. Everything on earth starts to blur together. And that, Emmart said, the point of the planetarium for him.

"If we could really see ourselves as we are in space, you get to know it in a very direct and experiential way," he said. 

Emmart said the planetarium was the first to move from showing the night sky as you see it from Earth to 3-D renderings of space. Now, most other planetariums have followed suit.

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