Northwest NEWS

January 15,2001


New film heats up IMAX Theatre

by Deborah Stone
   "SOLARMAX," the hottest new film under the sun, recently opened at Pacific Science Center's Boeing IMAX Theatre.
   Through the eyes of the world's largest film-format camera, audiences can gaze directly into the sun, receiving an unprecedented view of this amazing star.
   "SOLARMAX" presents the power and beauty of the sun through computer data generated by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), located a million miles from earth.
   These images enable audiences to experience a rare, up-close glimpse of earth's nearest star, ninety-three million miles away.
   The film also explores man's quest for knowledge about the sun throughout time, from the earliest known explorers in Newgrange, Ireland, more than 5,300 years ago to today's advanced European Space Agency/NASA solar exploration. Audiences ride on the wings of NASA's pathfinder solar-powered aircraft as it reaches a height of 80,000 feet, explore the world's largest solar energy plant and witness the modern-day heroics of NASA and ESA engineers as they recover the lost SOHO satellite from space and resurrect the billion-dollar portal to the sun. "SOLARMAX" is a Heliography Production produced by Directors John Weiley and Dr. Robert Eather, who developed the film with the cooperation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
   Twenty-eight days of data were used, which gave images of a full solar revolution and created realistic pictures, providing audiences with a spectacular sense of actually being on the sun.
   The film's title comes from the peak of a storm that occurs once every 11 years when the sun's poles reverse in an incredible display of violence. Solar cycles last an average of 11 years and the last one was in 1989.
   During this solarmax, all of eastern Canada's communication systems were knocked out, leaving that area of the country in a state of catastrophe.
   Twenty-two years ago, a solarmax destroyed top-secret spy satellites and in the year 444 AD, it caused the Incas to be convinced they had angered the sun.