National Geographic and the award-winning Au Diable Vert ‘Station de Montagne’ outdoor resort in Glen Sutton in the Eastern Townships of the Canadian province of Québec, have joined together to present the world’s first open air augmented reality planetarium, the ‘National Geographic ObservEtoiles’. This innovative new activity, that combines the technology of several cutting-edge companies from around the globe, will be officially launched to the public on 23 June 2018.
A world first, made in Quebec and signed by National Geographic
Recently certified as a Canadian Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), Au Diable Vert Station de Montagne and National Geographic present a truly unique experience. National Geographic ObservEtoiles is an open air astronomy show combining science and education. Perched at over 1,000 feet of altitude with heated stadium seats, this open air show takes place in a multilevel mountainside amphitheatre, specially designed for this purpose at Au Diable Vert in Glen Sutton.
Guests will be able to witness the night sky take on another dimension, as high definition digital overlays of 17th century illustrations align with the stars and planets. For the first time anywhere in the world, innovative technology in the form of an augmented reality headset will enable visitors to unlock the mysteries of the night sky! Narrated by talented astronomers, each night’s presentation will be tailored to the ever changing beauty of space. One of the key collaborators in developing this experience is the National Geographic astronomy expert, Andrew Fazekas (also known as the ‘Night Sky Guy’) who will be creating content for this Quebec-made and Quebec-based experience.
A unique and innovative concept
Jeremy Fontana, co-owner of Au Diable Vert, well known for creating unique projects such as the VeloVolant canopy cycle activity, the world’s highest suspended bicycle ride at over 1,000 feet high, developed the concept and joined forces with leading technology partners to bring the National Geographic ObservEtoiles to life. To name a few, he called upon the expertise of Escapist Games developers and the developers of the Star Chart application (widely used by astronomers around the world), Aryzon from the Netherlands to create the custom AR headset, as well as National Geographic, in order to present the world’s first open air augmented reality planetarium.
About the National Geographic ObservEtoiles
Thanks to its heated seats, this open air planetarium will be running shows for nine months of the year, immersing up to 184 guests in a time of astronomical discovery. This immersive experience will be enhanced by a high-performance sound system and theatrical lighting. The activity is made possible through the use of an application running on a smartphone and an augmented reality headset. The headset enables the viewer to see digital overlays of the sky, with the names of the stars and more, while seeing the actual sky in real-time. It will also be possible to augment the experience by adding animations and going on a tour of the solar system. Even cloudy weather will not keep the show from running, as the projection made by the smartphone will compensate for any clouds. At the end of the night, guests can take home their augmented reality headsets, so they can relive the experience anywhere in the world, by downloading the application on their own smartphones (download and headset included in the price of the activity).
National Geographic ObservEtoiles would like to thank the Quebec Ministry of Tourism and Eastern Townships tourism for their generous financial assistance, without which this project would not have been possible. Home to 22 regions, Québec is Canada’s largest province. Last year the province’s tourism body, recognised under the brand QuébecOriginal, launched ‘14 Experiences of Québec’ a new tourism strategy which aims to highlight what makes Québec such an original destination. Home to vast protected areas including 28 national parks, Quebec’s forests, mountain ranges, rivers and lakes make the Great Outdoors one of its key signature experiences. As a year-round adventure playground Québec offers an array of activities for visitors to experience its stunning lakes, rivers, forests and wilderness first hand. Visitors are therefore invited to embrace the great outdoors, and the new National Geographic ObservEtoiles experience joins a range of interactive light shows available across the province which help bring the great outdoors to life thanks to the creativity of Québecers and their expertise recognised worldwide in the fields of multimedia and technology.