Earth Works

When you ordinarily think of a planetarium, “you think of a place to examine stars,” acknowledges Kirk Johnson, chief curator and vice president of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s research and collections division. “But suddenly, the planetarium becomes about the Earth.” At least, it does at Digital Earth: Explore the Earth From Space, a program the museum is hosting in conjunction with the Biennial of the Americas that can be summarized as Google Earth on steroids.

“It gives you the ability to see Earth as if you were an astronaut,” Johnson says. But unlike being inside a space shuttle, the program leaders — Johnson, curator of space science Ka Chun Yu and earth sciences research associate Bob Raynolds — will be able to “steer,” skimming from place to place, sometimes at the altitude of a space shuttle and sometimes at the altitude of an airplane, or anywhere in between. “It’s just a really cool way to visit a place you’re not actually visiting,” notes Johnson.

Catch Digital Earth tonight at 7 p.m. in the museum’s Gates Planetarium. Admission is $8 for members and $10 for non-members, and Johnson anticipates that audience requests to see specific parts of the Americas — the Amazon rainforest or a peak in the Andes or Rocky Mountains — will be part of the show. The museum is at 2001 Colorado Boulevard; call 303-370-6000 or visit
Tue., July 20, 7 p.m., 2010


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