The Making Of Journey To The Stars

Part of the Journey to the Stars exhibition.

The Curators

Mordecai-Mark Mac Low

Chair of the Department of Astrophysics, Division of Physical Sciences

A man smiling at the camera with a dome, the Hayden Sphere, in the background.

Dr. Mac Low’s work focuses on understanding the formation of planets, stars, and galaxies. Working with students and colleagues, he has developed numerical models at different physical scales to attack these problems. In addition to his Museum position, he also is a professor in the Department of Astronomy at Columbia University. Prior to joining the Museum staff in 1999, Dr. Mac Low was a scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. He held postdoctoral positions at the University of Chicago and at NASA Ames Research Center in California. Dr. Mac Low, who earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1989 from the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a native New Yorker who attended public schools in the Bronx and Manhattan, including Stuyvesant High School.

Learn more about Dr. Mac Low’s work.

Rebecca Oppenheimer

Associate Curator, Department of Astrophysics, Division of Physical Sciences

Dr. Oppenheimer is primarily interested in comparative exoplanetary science, the study of planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. This nascent field is so young that we are just beginning to image and study exoplanets in detail. Her laboratory in the Rose Center is the birthplace of a number of new astronomical instruments designed to tackle the problem of exoplanet imaging and spectroscopy. In March 2003, her team successfully deployed the world's most sensitive coronagraph at the AEOS Telescope in Maui, which she used to image some of the complex structures of material beginning to form planets around some nearby stars. In 2008, she moved this project to the Palomar Observatory in Southern California. There, with far greater sensitivity and capability, the instrument is engaged in a five-year survey of the closest 300 stars to unravel the atmospheric chemistry of young exoplanets. Dr. Oppenheimer is also building part of a new planet imaging instrument for the International Gemini Observatory, one of the world’s largest telescopes. Dr. Oppenheimer, who serves on the current decadal survey of astronomy for the National Academies of Science, also works on faint white dwarfs, the remnants of normal stars, and brown dwarfs, objects like stars that never contained sustained fusion reactions. Dr. Oppenheimer received a B.A. in physics from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in astronomy from Caltech. She joined the Museum in 2001 and was appointed to the curatorial faculty in 2004.

Learn more about Dr. Oppenheimer’s work.

The Script

Louise A. Gikow

A woman smiling at the camera.

Journey to the Stars was written by Louise A. Gikow, an Emmy award-winning author/composer of over 150 scripts, books, and songs for kids and adults. She has worked at National Lampoon magazine, The Jim Henson Company, and Nickelodeon, where she started a successful publishing and multimedia business. She was a consulting producer and staff writer for the PBS series Between the Lions , is the co-creator and head writer of the hit Playhouse Disney show Johnny and the Sprites , and is the co-creator of Lomax: The Hound of Music , a music education show for children being developed for PBS. Louise also co-wrote the previous Space Show at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, Cosmic Collisions .

The Score

Robert Miller

A man smiling at the camera.

Robert Miller is a prolific composer of film, concert, and commercial music. His distinctive style has made its mark on over 1,400 commercials, a growing body of film scores, and works for concert and the stage. Over the years, his talent and passion have garnered him five CLIO awards. His film work includes the Lionsgate/Weinstein company release Teeth ; the 2005 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Why We Fight ; and the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival Best Feature winner, Red Doors . His most recent projects include Happy Tears ,Teeth -director Mitchell Lichtenstein's latest feature film, and the documentary Lost Sons of Havana , produced by the Farrelly Brothers and directed by Jon Hock.

Miller was formally trained at the Mannes College of Music in New York City and studied privately with American Masters William Schuman, Aaron Copland, and Edgar Grana. He was the composer-in-residence with the New York-based Jupiter Symphony from 1996-1999.

The Director

Carter Emmart

A man smiling at the camera: Carter Emmart, Director of Astrovisualization at the Museum.

Carter Emmart, Director of Astrovisualization at AMNH, has been involved in all of the Museum’s space shows since joining AMNH in the late 1990s. He was one of the original team members at AMNH of the NASA-funded Digital Galaxy Project that helped redefine how a planetarium theater can present science to the public through immersive data visualization. Carter directs the in-house space show production at AMNH and has collaborated with the visualization teams of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the San Diego Supercomputer Center. AMNH full dome space shows are now playing in worldwide distribution. Emmart, who previously worked at NASA Ames Research Center and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, got his BA in geophysics from the University of Colorado where he was an organizer of the Case for Mars Conference series. In May, 2006, Carter received an honorary PhD from Linkopping University in Sweden in part for his advising of a graduate intern program hosted at AMNH.

The Production Team

The production team for Journey to the Stars includes science visualizers, digital artists, producers, engineers, sound designers, educators and more. The Space Show’s Executive Producer is Rosamond Kinzler, an Earth scientist who received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Kinzler held research positions at Columbia’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and in the Museum’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department prior to co-curating the Museum's world-renowned Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth that opened in 1999. Dr. Kinzler assumed leadership of the Museum’s National Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology in 2001, and since then she has led major award-winning digital projects—on the web, in HD-media, and in print—that engage audiences that range from children, families, and the general public at home to science educators seeking graduate accredited courses online to visitors at informal learning centers across the country.

The production team of 13 members, which included lead technical directors, technical directors, camera animators, digital artists, project scientists, an associate producer and a production manager was headed by Producer Sarah Dowland. Ms. Dowland is a highly skilled Senior Visual Effects Producer. Born in Australia, she has worked with some of the most talented directors in the world on films such as The Matrix Reloaded , Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire , V for Vendetta , Charlotte Gray , In The Cut , Farscape (TV) for The Jim Henson Company,South Pacific (TV), and countless TV commercials. She most recently worked on Salt which was filmed in New York and DC and stars Angelina Jolie.

The highly technical production process for Hayden Planetarium space shows relies heavily on the expertise and support of the Director of Rose Center Engineering Benjy Bernhardt and his team of system architects, video and sound engineers, systems administrators and audio visual professionals.