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 .

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  • 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 :)

  • Sam Roberts says:

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

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