B, C at 81st St.-Museum of Natural History; 1 at 79th St.
$22, $17 students and seniors, $12.50 children
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Touching down at the north end of the sprawling American Museum of Natural History, the Rose Center stands in stark contrast to the Classical architecture of the institute’s main building: A 120-foot-high all-glass cube supported by stainless-steel girders and housing an 87-foot-tall white orb initially registers as a docking bay for a spacecraft. Inside the encased globe, there’s the 420-seat Hayden Planetarium upstairs and, in the lower hemisphere, the Big Bang Theater. In this latter space, patrons peer down at a concave screen while the noble voice of actor Liam Neeson describes the cosmic explosion. (Upstairs it’s Neil deGrasse Tyson for the Space Show.) No opportunity to educate is bypassed: Even the spiraling exit ramp charts 13 billion years of stellar evolution with all of human history spanning a mere hairsbreadth at the end of the path. Bathed in sunlight on the lower level—in the Hall of the Universe—model planets and two 10-foot-tall images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and a 13.5-foot-long screen for late-breaking astronomical news. The 15.5-ton Willamette meteorite weighing as much as five school busses is equally hard to ignore.Extra
Major NASA events like the Space Shuttle Return to Flight are broadcast live at the Rose Center.