Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Heliocliff and Planetarium

Word went out this week that Voyager 1, launched in 1977 and carrying the Golden Record of eclectic sounds from Earth.... now approx 11 billion miles from the sun and traveling at a speed of  636 miles a minute.... had just entered interstellar space. This theory was promptly debunked by NASA. Apparently at the time of writing Voyager is still in our solar system, presumed to have entered an in-between space in space,  the newly recognized Heliocliff, the edge of the Heliosphere.

Of course there is no useful identifying ribbon to breach and no photographic record. Images such as those of Jupiter and Saturn are a thing of the past as the cameras were turned off in 1990. The interstellar space welcoming party will sadly not be available on YouTube.

Suitably celestial windows at BAM's cafe level, never so appropriate. 

Also this week, by the sort of meaningless co-incidence that appeals to me greatly, we went to a performance of Planetarium at BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I've been SO excited about this I've felt like a child waiting for Christmas. Commissioned by the Barbican in London, the Sydney Opera House and some highbrow people in Holland you've never heard of, it sounds like a modern take on Holst's Planets. Kind of, yes. There's a song for the sun, the moon and all the planets, including poor old Pluto. It's a collaboration of Indie royalty, if you'll pardon the cliche, gone electronic classical: Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly and Bryce Dressner,  plus orchestra. Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea but I loved it.

The 30 foot diameter hovering orb, centerpiece of a constantly changing light display.  

As all these things can be looked up on Wikipedia I will just give my personal take on Sufjan. It's very, very hard to get tickets to see him! He's a quiet celebrity, there's no hype, no publicity, there's no big personality onstage. There's a mind boggling visual element in his concerts and it's an instant sellout whenever word of mouth gets around that he's performing. The experience of seeing him is so much larger than any art installation, so overwhelming, I have no better word than that useful British term "gobsmacked"!

Here are some photos I took, to everyone around me's understandable annoyance. They can't begin to convey the 60 minute brilliant kinetic onslaught, but I'm glad I got them. 

After covering the solar system so thoroughly what could be left for an encore? Why, Somewhere Over The Rainbow of course..... perfect!

When the evening was over we were plummeted straight back out into the harsh reality of grungey NY.

Our daughter Chloe and Dan, sitting opposite us on the subway. We wouldn't dream of going without them!


  1. Truly a cosmic event! Thanks for getting us there Jilly

  2. Looks amazing! You and New York are made for each other - though not in the grungey sense, I hasten to add. Those days are over...