Local students experience ‘Interstellar’ at Smithsonian

CHANTILLY, Va. — It will reach neighborhood movie theaters this weekend, but the new 70 mm sci-film film “Interstellar” is already playing in IMAX theaters at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

A group of Chantilly area high school students were treated to a sneak-peak of the movie and a related exhibit Wednesday.

The movie, by filmmaker Christopher Nolan, stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain.

“It’s in a near-future in which the earth is no longer habitable for humans and we really need to find a solution for where we’re going,” says Zarth Bertsch, Smithsonian’s director of theaters. “It’s really just a bold vision, it’s spectacular…we’re showing it on six-story screens. It’s about ten times the resolution of 35 mm film and about 100 times the resolution of your home HD,” Bertsch says.

Accompanying the film at the Smithsonian’s Udvar Hazy Center in Chantilly is a display of the spacecraft mockup “Ranger” used in the movie. The exhibit also includes the virtual reality device Oculus Rift DK2, which provides visitors an amazing virtual tour of space.

“It was so real, the details and the sound. There were objects coming at me, and I felt like they were going to hit me, it was super-cool,” says Katherine Hogue, a senior at Chantilly Governor’s STEM Academy, an offshoot of Chantilly High School, describing the virtual reality tour.

Katherine, who says she loves puzzles and is good at math and science, wants to be an engineer and hopes to attend either Virginia Tech or North Carolina State University next year.

The students who toured the exhibit are members of the school’s robotic club.

“I think it’s really possible for people to travel among stars. The next frontier is space,” says sophomore Jishnu Medisetti. “When I was little I really wanted to be an astronaut and that dream is still there. And other things I’m thinking of is an aerospace engineer, designing spacecraft to take us to other places,” Jishnu says.

The movie is also playing at the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall through at least Jan. 5.

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