Originally published on Broadsheet Melbourne (21 March 2016)
It’s lights down at the Melbourne Planetarium – and the iconic voice of Geoffrey Rush comes rolling in from the speakers along the walls, inviting you on a journey through time. Overhead, a star is exploding across the giant dome screen. Galileo adjusts his telescope and the scene shifts.
Welcome to Capturing the Cosmos, the new show by Museum Victoria set to premiere tonight around Australia. Featuring an original score recorded by the Bratislava Studio Symphony orchestra and the star power narration of none other than Academy award winner Geoffrey Rush, the film takes audiences from history’s earliest astronomers through to the groundbreaking technology of today to help unravel our place in the universe.
Astronomer Dr Tanya Hill led a team of animators and filmmakers to compile the work from the lenses of two of Australia’s most advanced telescopes – the SkyMapper and Murchison Widefield Array (MWA.)
“When we look up at the night sky, we are looking back in time,” says Dr Hill. “Light has taken so long to reach us that we are seeing things as they were millions or even billions of years ago.”
Now, in collaboration with astronomers at CAASTRO, the Commonwealth-funded ARC Centre for All-sky Astrophysics, Capturing the Cosmos will offer audiences a rare peak even further back in time, into an area of the night sky usually off limits to the human eye known as “The Dark Ages”.
And, Hill says, there will also be insights into that mysterious force which continues to confound scientists – Dark Energy.
“Dark Energy can’t be seen just like we can’t see the wind, but like a snowflake spiralling around on a windy day, you can see the effect that the wind has,” Dr Hill says. “It actually pushes space apart.”
CAASTRO director Professor Elaine Sadler says she and her team are excited for the chance to reveal some of the latest in astrophysics to Australian audiences under the “big sky” of the Melbourne Planetarium.
“I hope this planetarium show can convey some of the wonder of the Universe we live in and the big questions that CASSTRO astronomers are working to answer.”
By Sherryn Groch