This Outdoor Planetarium Will Change the Way You See the Stars

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Stargazing with your family when you live in a big, bright city can be challenging. Luckily technology like the popular Star Chart app makes it possible to map the night sky and even the constellations and planets no matter where you are. Now the app makers are taking that tech to astronomical heights at the world’s first outdoor augmented reality planetarium.

Just in time for the start of the annual Perseid showers, National Geographic has partnered with tech company Aryzon to debut the world’s first open-air AR planetarium. Combining technology with Mother Nature, visitors to the new outdoor planetarium in Quebec, Canada can take a seat in an outdoor amphitheater where they’ll be treated to a dazzling night sky show unlike any other.

Utilizing the same tech that the Star Chart app features, planetarium visitors will be outfitted with AR headsets. In addition to taking in the natural beauty of the stars, the headsets allow you to view the sky with a digital overlay of constellations and planets. Like a traditional indoor planetarium, the viewing will be presented as a show with narration by created by Andrew Fazekas, the world renowned ‘Night Sky Guy’ and a high powered astronomy laser used to help visitors navigate.

The location of the AR planetarium, dubbed “ObservEtoiles” is one of just two spots in Quebec designated as a Canadian Dark Sky Preserve, which means no light pollution will obscure your experience.

With the Perseid meteor shower visible in the Northern Hemisphere from now until mid-August, there’s no time like the present to book a trip to Quebec. If you just can’t make the trek though you can still check out the show in your own backyard. Opt for the peak dates on Aug. 11 and 12 when the view is best and break out your smartphones to narrate your own show via the Star Chart app.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Greg Rakozy via Unsplash


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