Shanghai Opens The Earth’s Largest Astronomy Museum

The biggest astronomy museum is ready for you. World’s largest planetarium opens in Shanghai, China.

The slick new Shanghai facility showcases the nation’s recent extra-terrestrial exploits.

Designed by Ennead Architects, the monumental new Shanghai Astronomy Museum creates an immersive experience that places visitors in direct engagement with real astronomical phenomena.

The Shanghai Astronomy Museum project provided the architect a chance to explore astronomy in a professional context, albeit through the lens of an architect’s eye rather than a telescope.

Viewed from the air, the main building of the museum looks like a super bowl of astronomical instruments with a circular skylight, an inverted spherical dome, and a dome theater.

The building features an exterior design without the use of straight lines or right angles, a concept inspired by the orbits of celestial bodies and the geometry of the cosmos. Instead, the building’s three main architectural components – the Oculus, Inverted Dome, and Sphere – function as astronomical instruments that track the sun, moon, and stars.

Moving through the museum visitors are reminded of the constant motion of the universe; this is further heightened by the manipulation of light and the sheer scale of the structure.

Opening July 18, is a master lesson in the architecture idiom “form follows function.”

“The Shanghai Astronomy Museum marks a new milestone in the integration of science, nature, and modern technology to provide an ‘out-of-the-world experience for astronomy fans and the general public.” April Qin, Sales Director for China

Among the highlights are stunning projections on a huge rotating globe measuring 20 meters in diameter using seven laser projectors, and interactive projections on a large wall measuring 60 meters. In another gallery, highly detailed images of celestial bodies. In the “Odyssey” exhibition zone, mesmerizing visuals are displayed on a 50-meter-long ribbon-like “cosmic thread”.

Then there’s the Sphere, home to the planetarium theater, which appears not only to rise like the moon over the horizon as you approach it but also to hover as if supported by some sort of anti-gravity machine. And finally, there’s the Inverted Dome, a rooftop amphitheater of sorts that connects visitors with the sky, reached via a spiraling ramp that has visitors mimic the orbit of a planet as they ascend and descend.

Located in the Lingang area of Shanghai, the 38,000-square-meter  structure is currently the world’s largest museum solely dedicated to the study of astronomy.

The planetarium features working telescopes and a range of interactive exhibits on the origins of the universe and the history of astronomy, including Chinese-speaking versions of Copernicus and other luminaries explaining their theoretical breakthroughs.

The museum’s exhibits include approximately 70 meteorites, covering those from the moon, Mars, and Vesta, as well as over 120 collections of artifacts such as works of Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, and Johannes Kepler.

An educational adaptive-optics solar telescope and double-focus one-meter telescope are installed in the museum for scientific research and to popularize science.

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