It is one of the most well-known planetariums in the nation, yet for one night recently the virtual solar system shows inside the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium were created and presented entirely by middle school students.
It was the big payoff so to speak after spending their week-long winter break at the Museum's Digital Universe Flight School.
"They're here to learn how to create a small space show, three to five minutes long, using the software that's used in the Hayden Planetarium. They're using the same data sets that astrophysicists use here at the Museum of Natural History," said Siva Ramakrishnan of the American Museum of Natural History.
The students' goal was to tell some story about the solar system, from simply what Earth looks like from the Moon to how far into the universe our radio transmissions have traveled.
Many of the students say what makes studying Space though the program particularly exciting is knowing that they would be using much of the same software and equipment that the astrophysicists use.
"I got this Email and then I read, 'Wow I get use the state-of-the-art program that's only accessible at the museum.' And I'm like, 'Wow that's great.' Then I read on and we get to create a planetarium show even better, and then we get to show it in the Hayden Planetarium which is one of the largest planetariums in the world. I mean wow," said sixth-grader Tammuz Frankel.
"I had no idea the Universe was this big and I think looking at it on the software was really helpful," said eighth grader Asimina Hamakiotes.