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Science On a Sphere provides access to the most current information about our planet.


Science On a Sphere

Generously provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Science On a Sphere is an astonishing piece of technology that uses computers and video projectors to display dynamic, animated images of the atmosphere, oceans and land on an illuminated sphere six feet in diameter. This system allows us to explain complex environmental processes to our guests in an innovative way that is both educational and interactive.

With over 400 datasets tracking changes within our atmosphere, land and ocean, as well as datasets for astronomy, models and simulations, Science On a Sphere provides access to the most current information about our planet. The datasets for this system are created by scientific institutions worldwide, including other science centers, museums and universities, as well as the NOAA and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA).

With support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Pacific Science Center uses Science On a Sphere to explain the science behind hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes and other natural disasters. We also examine how humans are changing our planet and how we may need to adapt in the future. Working closely with local educators and content experts, our staff utilize NOAA and NASA satellite imagery on our Science On a Sphere to develop interactive presentations covering extreme weather, climate change and geological and astronomical events. Science On a Sphere teaches explains the “ingredients” of regional climate, the impact humans have had on our planet throughout history, and how oceans are formed and affect the Earth’s ecosystem. With a wide variety of datasets to choose from, the educational possibilities for Science On a Sphere are endless.

The sphere is located just outside the Willard Smith Planetarium in Building 2 and is included with general admission. It is suitable for guests of all ages.

Current Presentations


Audiences learn about plate tectonics and different kinds of waves, as well as earthquake preparedness.


Discover how volcanoes form and what happens when they erupt. Explore the effect our very own Mount Rainier erupting would have on Seattle.

Alien Landscapes

Compare geological features in space to those on Earth, and discuss the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Ocean: The Motion Potion

Venture into the science behind wind-driven surface currents, density-driven deep ocean currents, and how the movement of water can make it warm in Europe and cool in California.

The Polar Regions

Compare the Arctic and Antarctic, including the different types of ice found in each location, and explore the causes and effects of melting polar ice.