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World’s Largest Astronomy Museum to Open in Shanghai

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There’s always more to learn about the stars.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that the galaxy we inhabit, let alone the entire universe, is unfathomably gigantic. Literally, even; we haven’t even come close to mapping out our own galaxy in its entirety, to say nothing of the neighboring systems beyond. In some people, this notion inspires fear, in others, indifference. If, however, you’re the sort who is absolutely fascinated by the comings and goings of the stars above, then there’s a place you really ought to pay a visit to at some point.

This weekend, the largest astronomy museum in the world, the Shanghai Astronomy Museum, will open its doors to the scientifically curious. An offshoot of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, this massive, 420,000-square-foot complex will play host to various space-themed exhibitions, a truly enormous planetarium theater, and even its very own fully functional observatory with a 78-foot-tall solar telescope.

The complex was created by award-winning architecture firm Ennead Architects, with a circular, swooping design intended to evoke the massive churning vortexes of the galaxy. “We really thought that we could leverage the architecture to bring incredible impact to this whole experience,” said lead designer Thomas J. Wong in a video interview. “The building is meant to be this embodiment of … astronomically inspired architecture.”

Ennead Architects previously designed the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. That project was headed up by one of the firm’s founders, James Polshek, and according to Wong, the Shanghai Astronomy Museum shares a “legacy” with it.

“Polshek referred to the Rose Center as a ‘cosmic cathedral,'” Wong said. “That’s very appropriate to the experience here at the Shanghai Astronomy Museum.”