One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure on at the Planetarium this summer (Adler Planetarium)
I used to go to the Planetarium when I was a small kid. There weren't a lot of audio-visual options when I was young--no IMAX, no 3D. Heck, we only had three TV channels. So watching the stars unfold above me was out-of-this-world fun.
Going back as a grownup who lives in a much more crowded and complex media world, I have to say, the Planetarium experience is still very cool. Leaning back in the dark and seeing that big dome of night sky, I felt some nostalgia for my long-gone childhood, along with some wonder for the way the technology has advanced.
The Manitoba Museum Planetarium now uses the Digistar 5 system, which allows the audience to zoom through space in a trippy three-dimensional way, whooshing through the rings of Saturn, watching moons veer by, viewing constellations from any angle. It's swoopy and speedy, to the point of dizziness.
For the summer season, there are four films playing every day. Each one starts off with a live in-house presentation by a museum educator, who tells us what's going on right now in the Winnipeg night sky. This is a good basic intro to star-gazing, without mosquitoes and without the light pollution of the city.
There are two films geared to younger viewers. One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure is a gentle, Sesame Street-styled program featuring Big Bird, Elmo and a new Muppet called Hu Hu Zhu. In this Chinese-American co-production, small kids can interactively explore the heavens while counting and singing.
Zula Patrol: Down to Earth is a zippy computer-animated adventure in which cute aliens go on a time travelling adventure through Earth's geological changes.
For the grownups, Dark: The Movie is a brain-busting look at dark matter and dark energy. Scientists theorize that these phenomena make up almost 96 per cent of the universe--but they don't really know what they are! A telegenic scientist walks us through what they do know, illustrated by some mind-blowingly beautiful simulations (the birth of a galaxy, ghostly filaments of the cosmic web).