“Incoming!,” the up-to-the-minute Morrison Planetarium show, delves into the past, present and future of the cosmos. (Courtesy California Academy of Sciences Visualization Studio)

“Incoming!,” the up-to-the-minute Morrison Planetarium show, delves into the past, present and future of the cosmos. (Courtesy California Academy of Sciences Visualization Studio)

Planetarium’s ‘Incoming’ shows fascinating impact of asteroids

With so much chaos on Earth, there’s never been a better time to look at what’s happening in the rest of the universe.

“Incoming!” the Morrison Planetarium show at the California Academy of Sciences, does just that. Viewers begin by seeing the world through the eyes of a lizard. Then they swoop upward in the sky, following the trail of asteroids and comets to learn how they have collided with Earth over time.

The experience feels a bit like the Disney ride “Soarin’ Over California.” You know you’re sitting in a theater with your kid next to you — and yet you find yourself gripping the arm rests to keep from tumbling into the dark depths of space.

The museum is one of a handful in the country with a studio equipped to produce its own planetarium shows. At 75 feet in diameter, the planetarium’s full dome screen is one of the largest in the world.

Part of what makes the show so incredible are its complex and sophisticated graphics. It’s both fascinating and a bit unsettling to discover that objects from space enter the atmosphere constantly — and that scientists are tracking what’s coming.

“Understanding the threat of asteroids and comets colliding with Earth is critical to the sustainability of our planet,” says Ryan Wyatt, senior director of the planetarium and science visualization at the academy. “But these objects also tell us about our past. They have wandered the Solar System since its formation and they have changed the course of life on Earth.”

Early on, viewers learn about the kilometer-wide scar known as the Barringer Crater that was formed nearly 50,000 years ago after an asteroid vaporized when it crashed into Earth. It’s one of about 200 impact craters around the globe that scientists have identified.

Although most of the large asteroids that could crash into earth have been identified, Wyatt says, astronomers continue to look for smaller ones.

“The message we really want to get across … is we really need to look for them, “ Wyatt says. “The great news is that we’re finding them fairly rapidly.”

“Incoming!” is narrated by actor George Takei. It took about 13 months and $1 million to make and includes a built-in break to allow museum staff members to update the audience on the latest data from current NASA missions.

The film runs through Sept. 5 and then resumes Nov. 23. The planetarium is closing temporarily so that the projection system can be upgraded.

IF YOU GO
Incoming!
Where: Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F.
When: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. hourly every day
Tickets: Free with admission ($25 child, $30 student, $35 adult)
Contact: (415) 379-8000, www.calacademy
Note: The show continues through Sept. 5 and resumes Nov. 23

asteroidsCalifornia Academy of SciencesGeorge TakaiIncoming!Morrison PlanetariumMuseums and GalleriesRyan Wyattsolar systemVisual Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over ‘poverty tows’ heats up

‘What can we do to ensure the vehicle stays in the hands of the owner?’

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Revelers at Madrone Art Bar in the early hours of June 15, 2021 (Courtesy Power Quevedo).
No social distancing at Motown-themed dance party

‘I don’t care how anyone feels, I just want to dance!’

Azikiwee Anderson of Rize Up Bakery pulls and twists sourdough into shape on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco’s Rize Up Bakery serving up sourdough with a call to action

Azikiwee Anderson wakes up most mornings just before dawn to start cooking… Continue reading

<em>The San Francisco Peace Pagoda stands tall in between Japan Center East and West malls.</em>
 (Ida Mojadad/The Examiner)
Patrons return to the Japantown mall

‘We’re so happy—it’s really hard to make a profit’

Most Read