Sit mountainside and explore the stars in Quebec’s first open-air AR planetarium.
National Geographic and Aryzon, the creators of the first cardboard AR headset, have partnered to bring the world’s first open-air planetarium to the award-winning Au Diable Vert Station Montagne in Glen Sutton, Quebec called ObservEtoiles.
When it came to the initial development of the immersive spectacle, the creators of ObservEtoiles looked at how we currently explored the stars. Tools such as telescopes, star maps and even VR are common methods we’ve used frequently in the past for this exact purpose. However, despite the availability of these tried-and-true methods, the team instead decided to ask themselves if there was a better way to educate the public on the cosmos while simultaneously showing the true beauty of the real sky. Their solution: Employ the latest AR technology in a way that has never been done before.
The 2-hour AR experience – designed by the British company, Escapist Games, the maker of the popular smartphone app, Star Chart – will use guest astronomers, or “Star Guides,” to help you navigate your AR star gazing experience using a program written by the “Night Sky Guy” Andrew Fazekas, a science writer, regular contributor for National Geographic and Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, and consultant for the Canadian Space Agency.
Fazekas will continually provide new content and updates for the program.
For the first hour of the experience, there will be a reception where you will meet the staff, talk with others in your group, and prepare for the journey that lies ahead of you. It’s during this time that you will receive a National Geographic branded Aryzon AR headset fit with an Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom smartphone. The next hour is spent at the massive amphitheater where you’ll be absolutely floored by the incredible views of the sky and forest, perched 1000 feet above sea level. This is where your AR star gazing experience begins.
ObservEtoiles is an ambitious outdoor AR experience that will explore the solar system and bring 17 century illustrations, constellations, and the names of the stars and planets to life as you explore the skies above you. You’ll even see satellites as they pass above you in real-time.
Once the mountainside spectacle is completed, however, the experience is far from over. Not only will you receive a download code to install the planetarium AR app on your own smartphone, but you’ll also be able to keep your Aryzon headset, to take home with you so you can continue your exploration of the stars on your own, or share it with your friends and family.
The amphitheater can accommodate up to 180 guests at a time and comes equipped with heated seats which means you can explore the skies at the planetarium year-round. It should also be mentioned that Au Diable Vert Station Montagne are expected to be honored as a Canadian Dark Sky Preserve in the near future; a rare certification given out to locations with an incredibly dark night sky and completely free of any light pollution. This would be Quebec’s second location to be officially certified.
The planetarium officially opened yesterday and costs $45.99 per person to experience (including your free AR headset). You can reserve your slot here.