Largest planetarium in Western Hemisphere set to open in Jersey City

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Students from Staten Island and Jersey City were among the first to see inside a new planetarium set to open at Liberty Science Center on Saturday.

It is now the largest space to see constellations and images from space in the Western Hemisphere. To see one bigger, you’d have to travel to Beijing or Japan.

"Size really matters in planetariums. It simulates being out in the night sky,” said Liberty Science Center CEO Paul Hoffman. "And you don’t just look at the night sky, you can then visit any of the objects in it. We can fly to Saturn or Jupiter. We can fly through the Orion Nebula.”

Middle-schoolers from BelovED Community Charter School in Jersey City and I.S. 49 Berta A. Dreyfus on Staten Island got to take a dizzying ride on an outer space roller coaster. They saw some of the latest up close images of Jupiter taken by the Juno probe. And they got a tour of the constellations.

All of the images appeared on 588-seamless panels projecting 88 million pixels overhead.

"My favorite part is when they zoomed inside Saturn,” said Abdul Malik, a 7th grader at BelovED.

It took 18 months to plan and construct the new planetarium. The first show open to the public will be on Saturday at 11:15 a.m.