Montréal, June 29, 2009 – Around the globe, the International Year of Astronomy is a time to celebrate the extraordinary impact of this science on our societies down through the ages. Montréal’s Nature Museums are joining the party and presenting Galileo Live at the Montréal Planetarium from October 9, 2009 to January 10, 2010. The new show, created specifically for the International Year of Astronomy, is the result of collaboration by four Canadian planetariums: the HR MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, the TELUS World of Science in Calgary, the Planetarium of the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg and the Montréal Planetarium.

Galileo the great scientist
The show explores the life and work of this passionate 17th-century visionary and scientist who caused such great upheavals in the scientific community and society of his time. Back in those days, Aristotle’s theories were still unquestioned truths: people believed that the Earth was the centre of the universe, that the Moon was a perfectly formed star, and that there was nothing left to discover in the heavens. But Galileo, with his inquisitive mind, had only one credo: the search for truth. Thanks to the extraordinary invention known as the telescope, he opened the world’s eyes to the amazingly vast and complex universe, and discovered hitherto unknown sights. With his insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge, Galileo paved the way for today’s scientists. He proclaimed that to explore the great book of the Universe one had to start with experimentation and demonstration – concepts on which all modern research is based.

The telescope, an ingenious invention
Although Galileo did not invent the telescope, he nevertheless perfected the instrument and was one of the first to turn it toward the stars. Four hundred years ago, in 1609, he gazed at the Moon through this very special spyglass. Using a telescope he observed Saturn, discovered the four main satellites of Jupiter and drew the phases of Venus. All this led him to postulate that the planets revolve around the Sun and that the Earth rotates on its own axis, although the hypothesis was considered subversive at the time. He was praised, honoured, criticized and later disgraced, but the obstinate Galileo remained undaunted, continuing to study the heavens to learn their secrets.

A show for the whole family
Audience members are transported to 17th-century Italy, as they are surrounded by panoramic images projected on the Planetarium’s screen to set the scene. Galileo is alone on the stage, but surrounded by virtual characters who add their voices. First of all is his adoring daughter, Virginia, who sees his discoveries through a child’s wondering eyes. Young members of the audience will easily identify with her. She makes the link between the action occurring in 1609 and today’s viewers, adding a personal and touching note to the great man’s scientific explorations. Galileo’s detractors also make an appearance, heckling and mocking him. On the Planetarium’s overhead screen, the audience also sees what the great astronomer saw through his “excellent instrument”: a marvellous, surprising and uplifting universe.

Galileo Live combines the physical presence of an actor with multimedia effects to create a fascinating and exciting setting. It appeals to all ages and lets audiences see an authentic replica of Galileo’s very first telescope, up close. The original script and direction were by Alan Dyer, of the Calgary Planetarium; the Montréal adaptation is the work of Pierre Chastenay, directed by Raynald Michaud, with Sophie DesRosiers as Artistic Director. It’s an enthralling experience!

Schedule:

October 9 to November 15 / November 19 to December 18:
In French: Friday at 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.

In English: Friday at 11:15 a.m. and 7:15 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday at noon

December 19 to January 10
In French: Daily at 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.
In English: Daily at noon

The Planetarium will be closed on December 25, 2009 and January 1, 2010.

General information:

Montréal Planetarium, 1000, rue Saint-Jacques (Bonaventure metro)
Tel.: 514 872-4530 – www.museumsnature.ca

Regular admission*

Adults: $8 ♦ Seniors (65+)/students: $6 ♦ Ages 5-17: $4 ♦ Ages 4 and under, free
Discounts for Accès Montréal cardholders

Giant leaps for Mankind

* 1609: Galileo observed the Moon through his telescope.
* 1969: Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, and the crew explored our satellite.
* 1971: David Scott, Commander of Apollo 15, conducted the famous experiment on the Moon by dropping a feather and a hammer, and said: “… that proves that Mr. Galileo was correct!”
* 2009: Super telescopes, like the Hubble Space Telescope, gaze farther and farther out into the depths of the Universe.

The Universe continues to astound us!

Montréal’s Nature Museums – the Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Garden and Planetarium – helping people enjoy nature to the fullest.

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