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The Next 50 at the Seattle Center started yesterday with events, live music, food trucks, and children flipping through the air (literally). The Next 50 is a six-month-long extravaganza that aligns with the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World‘s Fair in Seattle — the event that brought us the Space Needle — and aims to get people talking about and looking ahead to the next 50 years.

One of the most interesting experiences I discovered this weekend was the Earth Portal located in the Next 50 Plaza. It’s an interactive black dome that flies you through the universe, using NASA’s extensive database of our solar system and beyond. The original soundtrack is eerie and builds in perfect conjunction with the breathtaking visuals.

(Photo courtesy of Joe Menth)

Our knowledge of space has changed extensively in the last 50 years. The Earth Portal describes these changes while also playing on the interconnectedness of the Universe and our physical world. For example, the patterns of galaxies are incredibly similar to the patterns found in the fungi beneath our feet and in the Internet.

You can learn more about the project here or take a sun break on this gorgeous Earth Day and check it out for yourself.

Here is a full list of today’s events.  In the coming months there will be a variety of events related to science, history, arts, sustainabilty, and commerce that will continue until Oct 21. This will include the opening of Dale Chihuly’s 1.5 acre exhibition Garden and Glass and the Seattle Science Festival, which will feature “hands-on exhibits, experiments, demonstrations, games, and live performances to engage, educate and entertain audiences of all ages” starting in June at the Pacific Science Center.

Annie Laurie Malarkey is a Seattle-based photographer and writer. See this site for more of her work. Contect her at Find her on twitter @annieandacamera and on instagram @annielaurie.

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