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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

A Look Inside ICC Sydney's Immersive Space Exhibition 'Neighbourhood Earth'

Marvel at the wonders of the galaxy at this mesmerising new exhibition.
By Joe Rivers
December 08, 2021
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By Joe Rivers
December 08, 2021
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in partnership with

Over the past couple of years, there have been times when we've been unable to explore beyond the boundaries of our own LGA, so the thought we could take flight and venture to another planet seemed like absolute fantasy. But, with arts and culture venues starting to open again, Sydneysiders now have the opportunity to marvel at the wonders of the galaxy at Neighbourhood Earth — a multi-sensory, interactive exhibition now on at the ICC Sydney.

Concrete Playground was lucky enough to attend the Australian premiere of Neighbourhood Earth, which was also the first event held in the ICC post-lockdown. From the first moment walking into the arena, it was apparent that the organisers had ensured the experiential exhibit fully captures the sheer enormity of intergalactic exploration. Read on to learn what to expect from your other-worldly adventure at Neighbourhood Earth.

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Elliott Kramer

BE BLOWN AWAY BY THE IMMENSE SCALE OF THE EXHIBITION

The open spaces and high ceilings of the convention centre are perfect for recreating the cavernous feelings of outer space, and giant curved screens cover many of the walls. The entrance hall features an incredibly detailed scale model of the earth suspended from the ceiling (strategically placed so your focus is immediately drawn to Australia) while videos of stars, galaxies and clouds of nebulae travel past on the screens.

Sydney is the ninth city worldwide to host Neighbourhood Earth, and the first outside of China and the USA. The immersive and educational experience was developed by Toto Creative, an Australian design agency behind such events as the DreamWorks How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular. In collaboration with M Live, NASA and the US Space & Rocket Centre, Neighbourhood Earth showcases rare space artefacts, provides family-friendly entertainment and lets you marvel at what exists beyond our atmosphere.

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Elliott Kramer

WALK THROUGH A REPLICA CROSS-SECTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

Once you're in the grand expanse of the exhibition, it's difficult not to feel excited. There are scale models of some of the most important equipment in the history of space exploration, from the Hubble Telescope to Ingenuity — the small helicopter which, earlier this year, became the first craft to make a controlled flight on another planet when it completed several short journeys on the surface of Mars.

Those particularly interested in the inner workings of space travel will be enthralled by some of the more technical pieces. There are ingenious, tailor-made gizmos like scratch-resistant lenses and ear thermometers, all developed with life on the International Space Station in mind. In fact, you can even walk through a replica cross-section of the International Space Station, see the myriad of dials and buttons, then gaze out of the porthole, imagining you're orbiting thousands of kilometres above the earth.

Of course, an exhibit like this needs some hands-on experiences, and Neighbourhood Earth certainly delivers. Want to find out if you can fuel a rocket and initiate a successful launch? Reckon you can apply just the right amount of force to ensure a satellite stays within a planet's gravitational field? Can you lift a five kilogram bag of sand when it's subject to the gravitational forces of Jupiter? Or guess what you'd weigh on Mercury? You'll have the opportunity to get the answers to all these questions and more at Neighbourhood Earth.

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Elliott Kramer

LET YOUR CHILDHOOD SENSE OF WONDER TAKE YOU TO INFINITY AND BEYOND

Over a million people visited Neighbourhood Earth during its incarnations in both the US and China, and you'd imagine they were all blown away by the exhibition's pièce de resistance: the cinematic dome. The dome is a fully immersive audiovisual experience, with screens displaying stunning footage of the solar system.

You'll be awestruck at the sheer magnitude of exploration that's ongoing with thousands of photos of planets and stars being beamed back to earth on a regular basis. Plus, in these times of climate change catastrophe, it's heartening to learn that a series of missions to Mars have already identified seven separate potential landing sites for future exploration.

What Neighbourhood Earth portrays is the pure scale of what lies beyond our home planet. While the actual enormity might be truly unfathomable (like the fact that the little red spot on Jupiter is actually the size of Earth), for those of us who aren't billionaires or mates with Elon Musk, this is the closest we're going to get to experiencing it first-hand for the foreseeable future. Those who are fascinated by space travel tend to fall in love with it during childhood, when that sense of wonder and excitement is yet to be diluted by responsibility and cynicism. Neighbourhood Earth is specifically engineered to let you revisit those feelings and to make you dream to infinity and beyond.

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Want to experience Neighbourhood Earth for yourself? For more information and to book, visit the website.

Images: Elliott Kramer

Published on December 08, 2021 by Joe Rivers

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