The Known Universe: The Hayden Planetarium’s Tour of the Cosmos Gets a Hans Zimmer Soundtrack

The German composer Hans Zimmer has made a name for himself (and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame) by creating original scores for films. You’ve heard his music, even if you haven’t heard of him. The Lion King, The Dark Knight and Inception are a few of the films he scored.

If you’ve seen Inception then the music behind this video will sound familiar. Zimmer’s music plays behind a small video with vast subject matter: The Known Universe, a six minute tour of, that’s right, the entire known universe. Put together in 2009 by the Hayden Planetarium in NYC, the video originally had a more New Agey, orchestral score. Zimmer’s track is beautiful and thankfully somebody decided to lay it down behind the Planetarium’s video. The results are amazing, a slicker version of Charles and Ray Eames’ famous film Powers of Ten, but with a more distant starting and ending point.

Where Powers of Ten started its tour out at a bird’s eye level above Earth, The Known Universe begins above the planet’s highest point, above the Himalayan Mountains, and quickly pans out to show the Moon’s orbit, the orbits of the other planets in our solar system, and beyond.

Really beyond—all the way into the afterglow of the Big Bang. And even though it’s a simulation, it’s an accurate one.

The Known Universe was made using the Digital Universe Atlas, a four-dimensional map of the universe maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. (You can download your own copy here.)

Slip into your headphones and enjoy Zimmer’s music. The piece is called “Time (We Plants are Happy Plants Remix)” and it’s a tuneful, upbeat soundtrack that’s out of our galaxy.

Are you watching, Carl Sagan?

Kate Rix writes about digital media and education. Find more of her work at katerixwriter.com.


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  1. Samantha G. says . . . | October 31, 2012 / 11:09 am

    This is awesome!! I’m a huge fan of Hans Zimmer. I think the way I found out about him was because he scored Pirates of the Caribbean! And don’t forget the Dark Knight :) He is a fantastic musical mind. SO glad they replaced the other music on the video with his!

    And as for the video…WOW. I knew I was little…but every time I look at a simulation like this, I realize just how little I really am :)

  2. Sam Roberts says . . . | November 4, 2012 / 2:26 am

    Strange, in the credits it says the music is by Suke Cerula…

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