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The Marston Exploration Theater at ASU will send students into the outreaches of space for even less than you'd spend to go to the movies.

On Saturday, ASU astronomers will take viewers on a trip through unfamiliar galaxies with their program “The Search: Exploring Unknown Worlds.” This specific program focuses on new discoveries in the universe as a whole, according to the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) descriptions.

The website describes the experience as a "live 3-D exploration of known exoplanets in our neighborhood in space.”

What makes the selection of shows at the Marston Exploration Theater so unique is the live aspect of the presentation. Planetarium theater manager Robert Alling explains what makes the SESE’s presentations so unique.

“The (shows) are not movies,” Alling said. “Someone is not coming in, pressing a button and playing a movie. Those are live presentations that take two people to do them. One is manipulating the planetarium, and someone else is there presenting to the crowd.”

The theater is set up with state of the art technology, including a Definiti Sky-Skan Planetarium and two Sony 4K projectors, which make the entire theater come alive with stars, planets and other celestial objects.

Four different shows cycle through the Marston Exploration Theater’s repertoire. The other shows include, “To the Edge of the Universe and Everything in Between,” which is a narrated show that focuses on current updates in space science; “Gathering Light: 25 years of discovery from the Hubble Space Telescope,” which focuses on some of the beautiful images that the Hubble telescope captures across the universe; and “The Secret Life of Stars,” which answers many questions about stars and depicts simulated pictures of a supernova.

Each week a new show is presented because of the live nature of the presentations. An audience will never visit the same planets and places twice. 

Alling said the presentation truly takes the audience on a journey.

“The presentations show (the audience) in a graphic sense,” Alling said. “When we go to planets, we aren’t going to tell them what’s next, we are actually going to fly to a planet. We talk about what is important there, show images and then when it is time to go to the next thing we fly to the next thing. It really is a journey.”

The Marston Exploration Theater was the first of its kind to be open to the public, and SESE Coordination Senior Margaret Hufford said this is especially exciting for local school children who get to experience space in such an intimate setting.

“The Marston Exploration Theater doesn’t just serve the School of Earth and Space Exploration or ASU,” she said. "It serves more than 8,000 K-12th students to show their place in the universe and teach them about outer space.”

Fans of the 3-D shows aren't limited to astronomy gurus or students learning as part of a curriculum. 2008 ASU alumni Samantha Standard still makes a point to make it to campus to see a show every once and a while.

"We saw that (the Marston Exploration Theater) wasn't just open to students, so we were super excited," she said. "We went for my birthday. I was expecting it be like an IMAX movie where you put on the glasses and watch a show, but it wasn't like that at all. There was a guy who stood there and talked the whole time explaining everything and answered any questions. I suggest it to my friends all the time."

The Marston Exploration Theater plays two shows a week, and Alling and his team present every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. General admission is $7.50, but ASU students can get tickets for $5.50. The Marston Exploration Theater is located inside the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV at 781 E. Terrace Mall.

Related Links:

The uncertain future of space exploration

Thanks, Obama! We're out of the space jam

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