Starstruck in the City: Cosmic Wonders of the Hayden Planetarium


There are so many opportunities to be starstruck in New York’s Upper West Side. From iconic sights such as Central Park and the Hudson River to the occasional chance run-in with the likes of Tina Fey or Upper West Side resident Jerry Seinfeld. But planning a visit to the Hayden Planetarium offers a star encounter like no other.

Tucked amidst the earthly realm of New York’s charming Upper West Side you’ll find an otherworldly universe within the Hayden Planetarium. This state-of-the-art planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History is part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, renowned for highly integrative and information-rich experiences in the formation of the cosmos. 

Innovation and Wonder from The Start

From the day it first opened its doors in 1935 the Hayden Planetarium has maintained its mission to provide visitors with, as stated by New York Times reporter Christopher Gray “a more lively and sincere appreciation of the magnitude of the universe... and for the wonderful things which are daily occurring in the universe.” Continual upgrades that are in line with the latest technology have helped the Hayden maintain its place as one of the most innovative and fascinating planetariums in existence. 

Improving on an already outstanding planetarium the original space was demolished in 1997 and replaced with a structure that’s simply out of this world. Under the direction of celebrated astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the current iteration of the renowned planetarium is a multifaceted venue for education, and research that frequently hosts guest appearances by notable scientists. 

A Joy Ride Through The Universe

The Hayden Planetarium's space show and presentation explodes with an immersive big bang. The exhibits are all truly remarkable because this unique experience was created through a collaboration of museum scientists, educators, and experts in the field of space visualization 

The award-winning team bases their exceptional program on real data from NASA, Japanese Aerospace Exploration (JAXA), and European Space Agency (ESA) missions as well as their telescopes and supercomputer simulations. Data garnered from these and other globally significant space research institutions are incorporated into the displays and theatrical presentations.

Far from dry, the exhibits at the Hayden Planetarium keep in line with the mission of public outreach in the interest of science through community programs and visualization. A visit to the Hayden Planetarium offers so much more beyond simply looking at the stars from your seat below.

This realistic and high-tech journey relies on real-time knowledge and virtual reality to engage and educate. Visitors of the Hayden Planetarium describe the event as a mind-blowing joy ride through the universe and as a personal tour of the solar system.

Inside The Great Sphere

The Hayden Planetarium itself is a wonder to see. Also called the Hayden Sphere or the Great Sphere, this seemingly floating orb helps visitors visualize the size and placement of some of the planets in our galaxy as they relate to the sun, represented by the sphere. Surrounding the sphere is a spiral walkway upon which billions of years of the evolution of the creation of the universe unfolds. 

This enormous sphere measures 87 feet. In diameter and weighs an astronomical four million pounds. It is suspended in a glass cube that adds to the striking visual. Inside the sphere, visitors will find the main attraction, the Space Theatre. Here a state-of-the-art Zeiss Mark IX star projector floods the theater with images of a wondrous night sky.

And the other half of the giant globe is pretty impressive itself.  It houses the Big Bang Theatre. Using special light effects and virtual reality computer modeling, visitors to the Big Bang Theatre are launched into a four-minute quantum leap back to the very raw and very real beginning of the universe. 

Experience Galactic Wonder on The Upper West Side

The planetarium experience familiar to most people is light years from what you will experience at The Rose Center and Hayden Planetarium. Immersive, mind-blowing, and right here on the Upper West Side-- you owe it to yourself to encounter the cosmic wonders of the Hayden Planetarium. After all, everyone needs their “space.” Whether you consider yourself a science devotee or are mildly interested in knowledge of the cosmos, the Hayden Planetarium is a must-see event. New York has long been considered an innovation epicenter and the Hayden Planetarium underscores the notion. Much more than a planetarium, the Hayden allows you to plumb the depths of space and time right here on earth.

The Hayden Planetarium is located a mere half mile from the Wallace Hotel, a walkable 12 minutes or four minutes by car. Come stay at the Wallace and plan your visit to the Hayden Planetarium and the many other treasures you’ll find in New York’s Upper West Side. Book your stay here.