In 1994, Evans & Sutherland (E&S) and Spitz, Inc. ventured to China, bringing dome planetariums, cutting edge software, and large format screens to a new frontier. We have worked hand-in-hand with our partners in China, growing the number of premiere planetariums to over 70. From Shenzhen to Beijing and Henan to Shanghai, it has been an honor to bring the heavens to earth for over two decades.
Our rich history of innovation in China culminates in 2021 with the grand opening of the Shanghai Astronomy Museum which is a branch of the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum in Lingang New City, Pudong New Area district, Shanghai. E&S and Spitz contributed to multiple installations on this project.
‘This planetarium is the largest in the world at over 400,000 sq ft, designed by Ennead Architects; it is one of the most impressive and innovative dedicated planetarium and astronomy museums built to date.
The Shanghai Astronomy Museum embodies three principal architectural forms: The Oculus, the Inverted Dome, and the Sphere, which houses a Spitz NanoSeam dome. Each of these design elements plays a role in the patron experience, harmonizing the journey through time, the infinitesimal presence of humanity in the vast cosmos, and power of the sun illuminating life on earth.
Continuous skylight circumnavigating the sphere
The Oculus tracks a circle of sunlight on the ground across the entryway and over the reflecting pools, demonstrating movement through time. The Inverted Dome provides an authentic experience of both day and night, marking the drumbeat cadence of days. The Sphere is an astronomical instrument tracking the sun, moon, and stars.
It exemplifies our place in this vast universe, and the origins of our concept of time rooted in ancient and distant astronomical objects. A continuous skylight circumnavigating the Sphere allows direct sunlight to peek in, celebrating the passage of time. The absolute brilliance of this design is revealed at the noon hour of the summer solstice when a complete ring of sunlight shines through to the floor below.
Housing and powering the science and art installation
Shanghai Astronomy Museum contains two Spitz NanoSeam domes. The first domed planetarium screen, which creates the Sphere, is 23 meters in diameter with a 30-degree tilt and 165-degree field of view. This dome is powered by Digistar 7 and boasts 20 Sony GTZ280 projectors with 14K+ resolution.
The second dome, also powered by Digistar 7, is a 17-meter dome in diameter with two Sony GTZ280 projectors and a Goto Orpheus Optical Star Projector. This dome operates as a science and art installation space rather than a fulltime planetarium. (In fact, there are currently 42 Digistar systems and 28 Spitz NanoSeam domes in China, along with a handful of older E&S and Spitz installations.)
The Shanghai Astronomy Museum unites art and science, reflecting both in the universe. Sunlight illuminates the journey, guiding patrons through space and time. The vastness of the heavens is captured in the building’s scale and in the viewing opportunities of the cosmos. E&S and Spitz are honored to participate in a project of such grand scale and fine-tuned detail. The Shanghai Astronomy Museum is proof that the sky is not the limit.