Jan 26, 2018

Day Trip to the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium at Liberty Science Center

By Joanne Colella

Residents of Monmouth County know that there are plenty of stars who live in our midst, and are often eager to share their celebrity sightings. But for a truly heavenly experience, you may want to consider looking upwards, to view the astronomical stars that light up our night skies. An enlightening day trip that is sure to delight stargazers of all ages is the brand new Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium at Jersey City’s Liberty Science Center, which celebrated its official opening in December 2017. The spectacular planetarium was created from an 18-month-long gutting and renovation of the center’s iconic IMAX Dome Theater, now transformed into the largest and most technologically advanced planetarium in the western hemisphere and the fourth largest in the world.

It was named in honor of Jennifer Chalsty, a New Jersey philanthropist and board member at Liberty Science Center who donated $5 million to create the behemoth planetarium, which boasts a screen taller than four stacked giraffes, or 60 feet; a diameter nearly two times the length of a bowling alley lane, or about 89 feet; lights that produce more than 281 trillion colors; and stunning 8K resolution on a wraparound, digital 10-projector system that can display updated satellite space images with lightning-fast speed. The generous donation funded conversion of the theater from film to digital, software and hardware to allow the theater to function as a planetarium, a new screen, and refurbishment of the entire theater, which seats 400 guests that are sure to be awestruck. The state-of-the-art technology will offer visitors an immersive opportunity to fly through the universe, experience the grandness and vastness of space, roam planetary surfaces, navigate asteroid fields, and watch the latest full-dome movies, according to Liberty Science Center President and CEO Paul Hoffman. The sophisticated software allows for downloads of the latest animations and images from NASA in order to stay abreast of breaking science news. The lighting system can make the planetarium dome take on the appearance of a blue daytime sky on Earth or the red sky of Mars, with a rapidly changing pattern to enhance full-color laser shows.

The reviews in its opening weeks have been stunning and it is expected that the planetarium will welcome 250,000 school kids in a year’s time – plus the additional families and tourists who are sure to flock to see this new astronomical adventure. Liberty Science Center is located at Liberty State Park, 222 Jersey City Boulevard in Jersey City. Regular hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information and to plan your trip to the stars, including the current schedule of planetarium shows, films, laser shows, and live presentations, call (201) 200-1000 or visit www.lsc.org.