Planetarium and Museum Resources

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WorldWide Telescope transforms the museum experience. From self-running tours to interactive branching educational tours, WorldWide Telescope promises an eye-catching and immersive showpiece for museum audiences. WorldWide Telescope has native support for a variety of systems, and enables kiosk-mode controls for maintenance-free operation. WWT requires a Windows operating system and like any real-time graphics application runs better on higher-performance graphics cards. Learn more...

A powerful tool for planetariums large and small, WorldWide Telescope provides a comprehensive set of features to help you create seamless displays on single-projector domes or complex, multi-projector domes.

WWT provides native support for a variety of planetarium systems and is scalable for simple and complex systems. In the simplest planetarium setup, WWT can run on a single computer running Windows, with one monitor for the control interface. In this scenario, WWT outputs the presentation to a single, full-dome channel so that you can project the visualization by using a spherical mirror dome or a fisheye lens.
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For more advanced planetariums, WWT can drive a cluster of servers to create a multi-channel dome projection. In this cluster mode, WWT synchronizes the display video and the data across servers, and manages the status of the WWT server power for each server in the cluster.

WWT handles warping and blending for the dome and comes with tools to solve for this calibration from within the application. Performance has been optimized to enable smooth real-time playback on modern graphics hardware with control for limiting computational demands such as frame rates and anti-aliasing.
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The following features in WWT 5.0 make it an even more powerful tool for planetarium shows:

  • Full-dome tour authoring and instant full-dome playback of desktop tours with overlays and images
  • New MIDI controller support enabling you to customize control panels by using inexpensive but powerful MIDI performance controllers
  • Controls that let you manage projector nodes, check status, and render performance from the WWT console
  • Screen Broadcast feature, which allows any application on the console to display as a window in Full Dome mode

WWT for planetariums requires a Windows operating system. You can install it on existing Windows-powered digital domes and it is compatible with a variety of software. Like any real-time graphics application, it runs better on higher-performance graphics cards.

People viewing the cosmos inside a planetarium

Presenting WorldWide Telescope in the Planetarium

Planetariums are using WorldWide Telescope in three general presentation formats:

Real-time, interactive presentation: a live operator can change the WWT display by using various controls during real-time, interactive presentations. Control options include:

  • A desktop application interface, including programmable custom buttons
  • An Xbox controller, which can be used by the presenter or audience members to change views, select locations to visit, and more
  • A variety of MIDI controllers are compatible with WWT, enabling you to customize control panels with sliders, knobs, and buttons for complex presentations

Real-time, push-button shows: you can use WWT to create and present tours (real-time shows) that are timed to music and to pre-recorded or live narration. WWT can output a SMPTE track for timing control of external audio sources. Just push a button and the show runs.

Pre-rendered movie for playback and distribution: WWT can directly render uncompressed dome master frame sequences at up to 8k resolution. Planetariums can use this capability to render an entire full-dome movie that is then loaded and presented by using an external video playback system. You could package this movie for distribution as a pre-rendered show or as a real-time, push-button show.

Pre-rendered digital video sequences also can be used as part of a pre-rendered production, either as layers with additional visual effects composited in, or for a specific visual sequence of a longer production. This enables producers to use their own visual-effects tools to integrate WWT-created assets with those from other sources.

The following resources provide information to help you use WorldWide Telescope in your planetarium:

  • Tour Template: download the storyboard template for designing and building WWT tours
  • WorldWide Telescope Dome Projects: learn how a small, on-site domes can provide an affordable, high-quality planetarium experience for educational settings
  • Xbox Controller Layout PDF: see how users can run WWT with an Xbox controller
  • Install WWT Remote Control: this utility enables remote operations of WWT and helps you control multiple machine clusters and multi-monitor configurations for multi-channel domes and powerwall high-resolution displays
Multi-Channel Dome Setup

A guide to set up a multi-channel display for use in a dome or frustum environment You can read the most updated version of this guide online, or download it in pdf, ePub, or Mobi format by following the download link on the gitbook page.

Not only for large public planetariums with state-of-the-art multi-monitor projection systems, the WorldWide Telescope Windows Client can be configured for immersive displays of the night skies in small on-site or portable domes for schools or educational events.

WorldWide Telescope Micro-Dome

Many children never have a chance to go to a bricks-and-mortar planetarium to learn astronomy, so we created a virtual planetarium on your computer with WorldWide Telescope (WWT). However, the universe is still best experienced in an immersive environment like a dome, so we have published a set of plans that enable schools to build their own small planetarium for use with WWT.

The WorldWide Telescope Micro-Dome is a low-cost, do-it-yourself option for creating a planetarium. You can construct one for less than US$1,000 by using supplies from local office and hardware stores and a first-surface spherical mirror. To complete your planetarium, you will need a projector and a laptop with WorldWide Telescope installed. Because a number of the construction tasks involve the use of power saws, cutting tools, and precise measurement, responsible adult involvement is essential.

The completed dome will allow 15 to 30 children at a time to experience a high-quality digital projection of space, powered by WorldWide Telescope. Additionally, WWT allows students to create their own tours of the universe to share what they have learned with classmates—extending the learning cycle.

WWT Mobile Planetarium Guide
You can read the most updated version of this guide online, or download it in pdf, ePub, or Mobi format by following the download link on the gitbook page.

Using Worldwide Telescope in mobile planetariums

You can easily configure WorldWide Telescope (WWT) to work in mobile planetariums. By using a laptop or desktop computer with a projector and either a fisheye lens or spherical mirror, you can project WWT onto the inflated dome, resulting in an immersive, 3D environment for exploration of the universe at schools, museums, science centers, and public venues of all kinds.

The mobile planetarium pictured here is a portable Go-Dome, 13 feet in diameter by 9 feet high (4 meters diameter by 3 meters high). It is small enough to ship as luggage and easy to assemble. Portable domes as large as 30 feet in diameter (9 meters) are also available. Here are some vendors of mobile planetarium domes, listed alphabetically:

(Note: These vendors are not affiliated with WorldWide Telescope.)

WWT-Driven Mobile Planetariums
Please let us know if you would like your project listed below.

The University of Washington Mobile Planetarium (page includes DIY guide)
The University of Oklahoma Soonertarium

Impacts - A virtual Reality Experience

Free Planetarium Dome and Virtual Reality Show!

The WorldWide Telescope team has produced a virtual reality and dome experience on the subject of impacts in our Solar System. This show can be used for free in virtual reality (VR) systems - currently Oculus Rift, domes running WWT and flat screens. The show includes a narration and original music soundtrack and brings your audiences to the locations of impacts in the past several billion years. Made for VR and domes, the show creates new levels of immersion to bring the visitor to the surfaces of bodies in our Solar System as well as a tour of the International Space Station. The senses of immersion and physical presence in the virtual environments are especially powerful using Oculus Rift VR device. Moreover, the show illustrates how WorldWide Telescope can be used in high level production. Additionally, the components of the show are made available for adaptation, customization and re-use.

The presentation can be done using the voice of the recorded narrator or you can have a presenter deliver the narration live. The script has been translated into several languages. If you can help out with other language translations we'd love to host the translated script with proper translation accreditation.

Each scene is a separate slide and many can be used as a standalone module on specific topics:

  • International Space Station
  • Asteroid impacts on Earth from 2000-2013
  • Flights over various impact craters
  • Asteroid distribution and belts

These slides are broken out and provided below.

Soon the team will be publishing specific how-to guides on how to use some of the new, advanced features of WWT to do:

  • 3d model importing and animation
  • Advanced uses of timeline editor
  • Authoring in VR


Show Credits

Produced, Written and Directed by
Doug Roberts, Ph.D.

Original Music Composed and Performed by
Chris Richko

English Narrator
Jonathan Fay

Science Advisor
Brett W. Denevi, Ph.D.

3D Modeling
Patrick McPike

WorldWide Telescope Team
Dan Fay
Jonathan Fay
Jessika Gebauer
Ron Gilchrist
Henry Honig
Nils Kock
Ben Kunz
Curtis Wong


All-Sky Background
Digitized Sky Survey (Color), Copyright DSS Consortium

Asteroid 433 Eros
NASA, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Mission

International Space Station (ISS)
Toshiyuki Takahei

Bing Maps

Asteroid Impacts 2000-2013
B612 Foundation

NASA, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Mission

NASA/USGS/Malin Space Science System/JPL, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Mission

NASA/Johns Hopkins University APL/Carnegie Institution, MESSENGER Mission

International Astronomical Union (IAU)
Minor Planets Center (MPC)

Single-Topic Slides

When the full Impacts tour was produced it was created in a way that would enable reuse of components of the show. We have broken out most of the slides here with their own narration and music audio. In some cases – ISS and Asteroid Impacts on Earth 2000-2013 – we have made versions specific for specific display environments (e.g., VR vs. flat screen). For the other topics the same slide can be used in any venue. The narration for all slides is the same as for the show and you can refer to the complete script for more details.

International Space Station

International Space Station Slide

Asteroid Impacts on Earth 2000-2013

Asteroid Impacts on Earth 2000-2013 Slide

Meteor Crater Flyover

Meteor Crater Flyover Slide

Manicouagan Crater Flyover

Manicouagan Crater Flyover Slide

Moon - Tycho Crater Flyover

Moon - Tycho Crater Flyover Slide

Mars - Gale Crater Flyover

Mars - Gale Crater Flyover Slide

Mercury – Caloris Basin Flyover

Mercury – Caloris Basin Flyover Slide

Asteroid Belts Exploration

Asteroid Belts Exploration Slide