Montreal: Spend a Day at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium and You Can Reach the Stars

By sandra. Filed in Uncategorized  |  
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If you want an entire day of intelligent entertainment for the whole family, head to the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium which moved next door to the Olympic Stadium. It’s a perfect activity if the weather is rainy or if it gets really hot in the summer, or any days in between.

The action is mostly in the 2 theaters and it’s quite the deal that your entrance fee covers all the shows. It’s important to look ahead online to figure out how to organize the times for the performances in English or French. You can then manage to get in about 5 shows in one day as most are 20-30 min . In between these, there are some table top games, interactive touch screens and wall displays. Visiting here is the closest you will ever get to rocks from Mars. We also got to see meteorites and learn where they landed.

In the the first theatre where we saw the exquisite Aurorae (Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights), we reclined in the soft comfy seats, It was amazing watching close ups of solar wind and plasma flowing gas on the sun.

The other theatre called Chaos was anything but as the kids got the opportunity to relax on beanbag chairs. The show Aboard the SSE-4801 was kid interactive as they were allowed to shout out answers to the questions of the animator. We learned new things: that Uranus rotates on its side and that there are 88 constellations but we can only see 44 at a time. The kids had fun being allowed to yell “To infinity and beyond”, found out where all the lost socks wind up as well about methane farts. Do you know how many moons Jupitor has? 69

Next up was Polaris which wamore juvenile with cartoony Vladimir the Bear and James the Penguin teaching us how to be a scientist.

After lunch we got to see the newest show, Passport to the Universe, narrated by Tom Hanks. It was a well done and instructive documentary connecting us to our ancestors by showing us we are looking at the same sky today as they did (by simply erasing the light pollution). I was wowed by the knowledge that for each star we can see there exists 50,000,000 that we can’t see. We were taught that stars are born and that we humans are made of “stardust”. Carl Sagan stated, “We’re made of star stuff,” because the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago.”

It was very timely that the video let us peek into a black hole in the same month that the Event Horizon Telescope gave us photos of one. In fact, in the really out-in-space swoopy-designed cafe where you can grab a lunch, there is one section with a wall of changing screen shots of moments in space. Got to see Canadian astronaut David Saint Jacques who is up in Space Station right now – and-  the new photos of a black hole.

Our last video, Secrets of Gravity, used a cartoon kid to try to explain Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. We discovered that a second isn’t always a second and time moves faster on the moon. Einstein famously said, “”Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

The shows at the Rio Tinto Planetarium lets everyone use their imagination. The 8-year-old who accompanied us was excited throughout the day. She said about the planetarium, “You can learn a lot more than you know”.  And we all sure did.

Location: 4801 Pierre de Coubertin Ave
Hours: Sun & Mon 9-6, Tues-Fri 10″30-9, Sat 9-9
Tel: 514-868-3000


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