An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Shot by Ma Xuefeng. Edited by Ma Xuefeng and Li Fei. Subtitles by Cai Linxiao and Emma Leaning.

How to plan an immersive space trip in Shanghai? All you need to do is buy a ticket to the Shanghai New Astronomical Museum.

As the largest in the world, the museum “creates a space” inside its exhibition hall to guide visitors on a tour of the solar system, distant galaxies and even black holes. It also aims to understand the history of astronomy and inspire people to think about its future.

The three main screens “Home”, “Cosmos” and “Odyssey” take you deep into space, then back to earth.

iDEALShanghai visited the museum on the day it opened. Here is what we found.

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Immersive exhibitions

The immersive space journey begins with the “Home” exhibition. Entering through a dark tunnel, a 17-meter-diameter model of Earth emitting a pale blue light invites you to walk into the solar system. You experience the past and present versions of the Earth, Moon, Sun, and other planets as if you were in a spaceship, observing Earth from space.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

The 17-meter-diameter model of the Earth is on display in the museum, showing past and present versions of the Earth.

Inside “Earth” is a planetarium decorated like a lawn on a summer night – just lay down to enjoy a 9 minute video projected on the dome. The video starts every 15 minutes and shows different stories about the zodiac or some of the most iconic stars such as the pole star. The one I watched was about the Chinese constellations.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Fiona Li watches the video projected on the dome inside “Earth”.

Outside of “Earth” many innovative interactive experiences can be found.

You can “walk” on the volcanoes of different planets. There’s Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Earth’s tallest volcano, while the Carolis Basin volcanoes on Mercury have been inactive for billions of years. Olympus Mons on Mars is the largest known volcano in the solar system, and Venus has more volcanoes than any other planet in the solar system.

They are all weird but amazing.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

The surface of the Carolis basin on Mercury

The second part is to check the weather on other planets – thunderstorms on Venus, dust storms on Mars. They are so real when you stay close. Or you’ll be mesmerized by the sea of ​​methane on Titan, which has the densest atmosphere of all known moons in the solar system, making it the most likely planet to form.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

The interactive experience of thunderstorms on Venus

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

The “planets” look real thanks to the light and shadow of virtual reality projectors showing different images from different angles.

Another highlight of the “Home” exhibition area is around 70 pieces from the museum’s meteorite collection.

They include the largest piece recovered from the Changxing meteorite, which fell on Changxing Island in Shanghai in 1964 and destroyed a farm house. It is the only meteorite that has fallen in Shanghai.

There are even microscopes to take a closer look at different meteorites.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Don’t forget to make an appointment through the museum’s official WeChat account for a “Flying through the Galaxy” ride, my favorite of all interactive experiences. Equipped with a 6-DOF platform and a 6K curved dual screen, this interactive “spaceship” offers you the weightless and immersive experience of interplanetary flight.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

The “Flying through the Galaxy” merry-go-round

Going upstairs, the “Cosmos” exhibition is accessible by leaving the “Home” exhibition and walking a long “interstellar” passage presenting an immersive and interactive artistic projection of a river of stars flowing with the stars. movements of people.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

A passage presenting an immersive and interactive artistic projection of a river of stars flowing with the movements of people.

Instead of highlighting clear facts, this exhibit asks a number of questions, such as What is the universe? What is his size? What is the essence of gravity? How is the distance between the stars measured? What is dark matter? The answers are presented through interactive exhibits to facilitate their understanding.

There are also interactive experiments in this field, such as electro-optical distance measurement, identifying the nebula. But it is more suitable for children to experiment to acquire knowledge in astronomy.

I was drawn to a series of special black hole decorations, where you can “see” the spacetime distortions with your own eyes.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Fiona Li poses in front of a special black hole model.

Then you will enter the third exhibition – Odyssey. This presents a historical narrative to guide visitors through the advancement of knowledge about the universe and space exploration efforts.

The highlight is a section on China’s most recent space projects, featuring life-size models of the Yutu lunar rover, Tianhe central module, and Chang’e-5 spacecraft, as well as a 9-milligram lunar sample. brought back by the Chang’e -5 missions.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

The model of the Chang’e-5 spacecraft

The VR Moonwalk next to the Chang’e-5 spacecraft requires an appointment and has a weight limit: participants must weigh between 45 and 75 kilograms. Plus, it usually has the longest queue in the entire museum. Using visual reality equipment, you can become an astronaut and experience the moon’s surface environment.

Everyone will be happy to see the Tianhe Core Mod – of course the real Tianhe Core Mod is already in the sky. What is in the museum is a life-size model of it. But getting into the basic module is quite interesting. You will learn about the life of an astronaut after seeing his workplace, his training and sleeping space, as well as his food stores in rich varieties. It also offers interactive experiences, such as controlling the spacecraft using a remote control.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

The life-size model of the Tianhe basic module

My trip to space ended with a viaduct through “the universe” – above the “Home” exhibition area, as a way back to earth.

Note: the museum cafe is a bit pricey, but the souvenir shop is worth a visit. I bought beautiful Planet fridge magnets, 15 yuan each.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

A viaduct through “the universe”

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Souvenirs inside the museum shop

Astronomical details of the building

The ingenious design of the building using astronomy is worth a look.

The roof of the Shanghai Astronomical Museum was designed to be an inverted dome. Under the roof is a spiral staircase 200 meters long and 720 degrees, which represents the spiral arms of the galaxy.

You’d better explore after completing all three exhibits, which will close before 4 p.m.

Dome Cinema

The 30-meter-diameter dome-shaped cinema is located in a wing of the museum, “floating” in the air with minimal visible support, giving an impression of weightlessness or weightlessness as visitors approach it. The cinema is equipped with a huge 8K screen and has a capacity of 200 spectators. The cinema ticket is priced at 40 yuan (a museum ticket is also required.) Watching a movie inside will be an unforgettable experience.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ti Gong

The Oculus

The Oculus, suspended above the museum’s main entrance, marks the passage of time by following a circle of sun on the ground through the entrance plaza and a reflecting pool. At noon during the summer solstice, a full circle of sun lines up with a circular platform in the entrance plaza.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ti Gong

Foucault pendulum

You can find this scientific equipment as soon as you enter the entrance. The device was invented in Paris in 1851 and was used to prove that the Earth is spinning.

An immersive space odyssey at the Shanghai Astronomical Museum

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Good to know before leaving:

* People can purchase tickets through the museum’s official website (www.sstm-sam.org.cn) or WeChat account (gh_f1afa6047afc) seven days before a visit. An ID card can only buy one ticket at a time. Note that when purchasing tickets, visitors should choose the time of their visit – morning (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) or afternoon (12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.).

* An adult ticket is priced at 30 yuan (US $ 6.4) per person. Tickets for military family members and those aged 60 to 70 are priced at 25 yuan per person. Tickets for students and children over 1.3 meters are priced at 15 yuan per person. Free tickets are available for people over 70, retired officials and children under 6.

* Reservation under their real name is compulsory for all. Each visitor is required to wear a mask and show their sanitary green code.

* Visiting hours are between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday.

* The museum is located at 380 Lingang Avenue. Metro line 16 is the best route.

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