Old and busted: Grainger Sky Theater at Chicago's Adler Planetaruim's 1970s Zeiss relic analog star projector. New hotness: $14 million system making it the world's highest resolution digital theater. Get ready to trip balls at your next planetarium show.
Specifically, the GST is the world's highest-resolution digital dome theater, projecting 8K by 8K images with a mind-blowing 64 megapixel resolution. Images are reportedly so sharp that they appear nearly 3D. There's no comparing it to the cinematic standard of 2k or 4k—it'd be like trying to drag race a Ferrari 559 in a wheelchair (ok, fine, there's your comparison).
Images are formed from 20 Rockwell Collins projectors—more than any other theater out there—the same models used by the US military to train pilots for night-vision-only landings. These projectors are driven by 45 computers that are powered in part by 42 NVIDIA Quadro GPUs and run with the help of 84 blade servers. As Adler Planetarium CTO Doug Roberts puts it, "Fourteen years ago, this would've been the world's fastest supercomputer." Each projector's lens is custom-ground to precisely match the dome's geometry, resulting in an insanely high 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and extending the viewing area 190 degrees around the visitor. 400 LED pucks on the floor complement the on-screen effects.
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