Inside 'A Beautiful Planet' IMAX Film's Epic 1st Space Scene | Exclusive Video

The new IMAX film "A Beautiful Planet" depicts Earth from an astronaut's-eye view, and it also painstakingly recreates the entire Milky Way in a realistic visualization. And you can learn how the filmmakers tapped supercomputers to create the stunning scene in this exclusive clip.

In the video, Donna Cox, the director of the Advanced Visualization Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois, describes working with scientists to visualize their data and telescopic images cataloguing the universe. She is joined by the center's visualization designer Robert Patterson.

"Her team works with real astronomical data — this is not CGI, this is not made-up stuff," Toni Myers, director of "A Beautiful Planet," says in the video.

In "A Beautiful Planet", the visuals "take the audience where cameras can't go," as Patterson puts it — audience members are immersed as the view zooms out and through the Milky Way, showing an Earth-like exoplanet and other features. Every known Milky Way star is taken into account in the realistic view and the simulation that created it.

"Today, more than ever before, we're seeing a kind of renaissance of artists and scientists working together to bring the visual to people and the accuracy of science to be embedded in that visual," Cox said.

"A Beautiful Planet" opens in IMAX theaters on Friday, April 29.

Email Sarah Lewin at or follow her @SarahExplains. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.