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Celebrate Earth Day From Outer Space

Q&As

planet earth

See the blue planet from space and celebrate Earth Day in the Hayden Planetarium on April 19. © NASA


Join the Museum’s annual celebration of Earth Day with Spaceship Earth on Thursday, April 19. This Hayden Planetarium program takes viewers across the planet’s verdant hills and blue oceans and into space to view Earth as only astronauts have seen it. Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart will guide the tour using the Museum’s Digital Universe Atlas, an authentic 3D map of the cosmos that uses satellite data as recent as three hours old to digitally reconstruct the universe. Emmart recently answered a few questions about the experience.

Why is it important to take a look at Earth’s place in the universe?

Carter Emmart: Earth Day was a direct result of the first images acquired by astronauts viewing our home from the humbling distance of the Moon. One planet, ours, in space, alive with life and color, covered mostly by water and a dynamic atmosphere with constantly shifting clouds, and all this seen from our national goal of reaching the Moon, our nearest neighbor, lifeless, without color or water, and without atmosphere. Regardless of how fascinating the rest of the planets, moons, and asteroids are, ours is paradise. We are part of this world, and our survival goes hand in hand with it. We respond to its beauty as we respond to any beautiful landscape filled with color, form, and the dynamics of nature. Our Earth Day celebration is a moment to sit back and revere our planet and our existence.

How will experiencing Earth in the Hayden Planetarium give someone a new perspective on the blue planet?

Emmart: We authentically show our planet as one would see it in space. We see the geography, but not the borders we impose. We see evidence of how we are changing the natural environment in places. This perspective helps us realize we are all already in space, and we are protected by being here. We inhabit the most beautiful spaceship we could ever imagine. We must learn how to get along better with it and with each other.

How is the human footprint changing the view of Earth from space?

Emmart: Continental-scale gray pollution over China, deforestation across the Amazon rain forest, the growing mass of urban sprawl, the buildup of illumination of all nations at night.

What are some of your favorite places on Earth to visit with the Digital Universe Atlas?

Emmart: The headwaters of the Brahmaputra in the Assam region of India near Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh, the deep forest greens of the foothills to the Himalaya, and the Tibetan Plateau. The Earth reaches its highest peaks here toward space, and it is one of those special places, although the entire globe is mesmerizing, really. It is us, just at a larger scale.

Click here to purchase tickets for this program.

American Museum of Natural History

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