Cosmic Sky

About CosmicSky

CosmicSky productions is a recently formed collaboration between astronomer Dr Francisco Diego, planetarium educator and artist, Dr Gill Russell and poet/storyteller, Brian Hill.

Brian, Gill and Franciso in Brian’s garden in 2004

Dr Francisco Diego

Francisco Diego is based at University College London and is president of the UK Association for Astronomy Education. He is a professional astronomer and a keen populariser of astronomy, with extensive experience as a planetarium producer/presenter lecturer, author and broadcaster.

Francisco Diego is also an accomplished astronomical photographer.

Dr Gill Russell

Gill Russell has a background in both the arts and sciences. She has eight years of experience running a small planetarium where she created and presented many live shows on various themes. She also produces original soundtracks, and background music for planetarium shows.

Brian Hill

Brian Hill is a poet with a keen interest in astronomy. He has written over fifty poems on various astronomical themes and has performed live as a storyteller and poet under the stars

As well as writing poetry, stories and performance, Brian Hill has worked in graphic design, video-making and in training for artists.

CosmicSky Digital Theatre

Developed with an award from NESTA, and the generous support of Sky-Skan, this semi portable immersive theatre began touring selected venues in the UK for the first time starting August 2005. Read on for more information.

Beginning of Forever

Our Place in the Vast Ocean of Time…

An awareness of our mortality has generated a need to link to the stars to give us a sense of the eternal. But where did the stars come from in the first place? How long have they existed? How did all this begin? How long have we been here? In searching for the origin of the Universe, the diverse myths of creation illustrate the fantastic depths of the human imagination. But even more amazing is the discovery of our place in the vast ocean of time and the story that we tell today: “The Beginning of Forever.”

Approximate running time: 25 minutes

Suitable for general admission

Languages available: English (coming soon in Spanish, French, and German)

For educational purposes, the production includes information about: Cosmology, Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, History, Mythology, Religion and Philosophy.

Celestial Cycles

A contemplative show with minimum narrative, through the audio-visual experience alone, lets you experience the beauty of our skies. Full of beautifully evocative sequences, like the moon rising over standing stones and the aurora borealis over a stark winter landscape …it lets your imagination float free!

Celestial Cycles for Children
There is also a special version for young audiences with brief voice guidelines.

Approximate running time: 25 minutes
Suitable for general admission
Languages available: English (coming soon in Spanish, French, and German)
Without employing a specific narrative, this nonverbal show runs through a poetic visualization of a series of environments that immerse the audience in different atmospheres. It is educational in a holistic sense


The CosmicSky Theatre completed a successful tour of selected UK reaching over 10,000 people. It was launched on the 16th August 2005 at the Lonach Hall, Aberdeenshire and has been hosted by ThinkTank Birmingham, Perth Concert Hall, Gallery Oldham, and Bolsover Castle.

Gallery Oldham, Manchester

ThinkTank Science Centre, Birmingham

Lonach Hall, Aberdeenshire

Technical Description

The CosmicSky Theatre under construction

The CosmicSky Theatre with dome suspended

The CosmicSky Theatre has a rigid cylindrical wall 6m in diameter and 1.2m high, which defines the horizon of the hemispherical projection screen above it. Access is by a full size door. The minimum required floor space is 7m x 7m (hot link to the pdf plan view) with a minimum ceiling height of 4.3m (hot link to the pdf side view).

The CosmicSky Theatre with dome inflated

The dome is made of light-proof fabric suspended from a geodesic structure. A nearly spherical shape is achieved in about 30 seconds by the pressure provided by an external fan, once the door is closed. The fabric dome was supplied by Stargazer Planetariums, UK.

The CosmicSky Theatre Interior

Inside the CosmicSky Theatre there is a continuous circular bench providing comfortable seating for 28 people with additional room for two wheelchairs. A central enclosure accommodates the projection, sound, control and light systems.

CosmicSky Theatre seating arrangement

CosmicSky Theatre images are projected onto the dome with a definiti®TWIN projection system. This system is the result of a JOINT DEVELOPMENT between Sky-Skan, Inc., the World’s leader in digital projection technologies for domed screens, and Carl Zeiss, the leading manufacturer of optical planetarium systems.

The definiti®TWIN projection system

This unique system combines two DLP projectors fitted with high quality Zeiss Digigon (fish-eye) lenses. Each projector covers half of the 180 degree dome screen for a total of 1,113,000 pixels and a superb contrast ratio of 1000:1. definiti®TWIN is piloted by Sky-Skan’s DigitalSky software under Windows XP. Control comes from a master computer that in turn pilots the real-time image generators consisting of two slave computers (one for each projector).

The sound system is 5.1 surround, with four full range speakers equally spaced along the periphery of the room, under the seats. There are also a fifth full range speaker, an active sub-woofer and sound amplifier, all within the central enclosure. Each speaker can deliver 80W RMS with only 0.09% of total harmonic distortion. Frequency response has been specially tuned for the CosmicSpace environment to be flat from 15 to 22,000Hz.

The house lights are operated by a dimmer switch in the control panel and there is an emergency battery back up that comes on automatically in case of mains power failure.

The power comes from a standard mains 240VAC 50Hz wall socket with overload protection. The total load is 1500W.

Technical Specifications (click for full-size PDF):
Floor Plan

Hire the CosmicSky Theatre

With its holistic and innovative approach, the CosmicSky Theatre is an installation that adds value to venues by increasing the number of visitors and developing new audiences. Feedback clearly illustrates how CosmicSky Theatre experiences make a profound connection with the audience.

CosmicSky Theatre at Perth Concert Hall

The ideal location for the CosmicSky Theatre is a venue with a quiet room of at least 7m x 7m of flat floor space and ceiling height no less than 4.3m. It has been designed following a strict modular layout that makes it easy to transport, assemble and align.

CosmicSky Theatre at Gallery Oldham

Typically, unloading, assembly and alignment is done by two people and takes two days. CosmicSky provides all necessary tools and access devices.

After installing the CosmicSky Theatre, CosmicSky spends a few days training presenters at the venue.

Training Staff at ThinkTank

The CosmicSky Theatre has been inspected and certified for fire regulations, accessibility and electrical connections.

For details on recent installations, please look at the UK Venues page.

Staff Briefing Visitors

CosmicSky Shows

CosmicSky shows merge the beauty of nature with the language of science, art, poetry and philosophy to communicate the wonders of the universe and its relevance to our lives. The shows are contemplative and meditative in nature, leading us to a deeper sense of connection with our environment and our place within it.

CosmicSky shows are Full-Dome incorporating 5.1-surround sound.

Beginning of Forever

Celestial Cycles

Planting the Cosmic Seed

Celestial Journey

Rhythm of the Night

Cosmic Message Thumbnail

These shows are all designed for exhibition in the CosmicSky Theatre, and A Celestial Journey has also been shown in the Space Theatre facility at Glasgow Science Centre.

All of our shows are conceived and produced in-house using the most advanced computer technology. Images and sound are digitally processed from originals to generate high quality full dome image displays and multi-channel soundtracks.

Beginning of Forever and Celestial Cycles are distributed by SkySkan.

CosmicSky shows are for sale. Prices are available on application. We will also accept commissions to build CosmicSky Theatre domes.
Please contact us to let us know of your interest.

Lectures by CosmicSky

Beside show production and the development of the CosmicSky Theatre, CosmicSky can provide a growing number of resources for planetarium environments, learning and teaching.


All CosmicSky team members have experience in teaching and lecturing as well as in conference presentations, workshops and group facilitation. Francisco Diego is currently most active in these fields, particularly lecturing.

‘The Magic of Total Solar Eclipses’

Experience the most spectacular display in Nature and discover some of the secrets of our precious star.

‘The lives of stars’

From birth to death, like people, stars live in different ways. Our link to the stars could not be more direct, as without the fascinating process of star lives, there would not be chemical elements nor the required energy in the Universe for life to flourish.

‘Landscapes in the sky: worlds for life’

The discovery that our world is one of many, all of them evolving in very similar ways. We imagine journeys to the Moon and planets, find similarities and differences between them and realise how important those landscapes can be for the origin and evolution of life, specially now, that we have discovered more than a hundred planetary systems.

‘The rainbow: a message from the Universe’

How we discovered the amazing secrets hidden in the colours of the rainbow, which led humankind to learn about the nature of stars, the expansion of the Universe and the presence of planets around many stars. My favourite subject, having spent many years doing high resolution astronomical spectroscopy. This lecture includes the Kirchhoff and Bunsen experiment and a Doppler demonstration.

‘The Deep Sky, the Ultimate Landscape’

How many stars and planets? How far away? Is there an end to space? The large scale of the Universe, a lesson in humility to humankind.

‘Ultimate time line: The story of the Universe’

a graphical description of the main milestones ever, from the origin of the Universe, to the origin of the chemical elements and the origin of humankind and explores ideas about the fate of the Universe.

The underlining theme is ‘origin and evolution’, which links all these lectures together in my public course that I call ‘The Mind of the Universe’.


CosmicSky’s design expertise while mainly applied to show production visuals has offshoots in design for print and display. For example, we have just finished two short-run commissions for specially branded moon phase calendars. We are now offering this product - customised moon calendars - to a wider public, via this web site.

Moon Calendars

For the past three years, CosmicSky has produced moon phase calendars for the British Association of Planetarians. Other organisations (our CosmicSpace collaborators, SkySkan for example) have us design ones especially for them.

You can order your own branded CosmicSky moon calendars …from as little as 10p (0.10 GBP)* See price list below.

Custom A3 Moon Calendars are available now. We can add your company logo to one of our existing designs (shown below) or you can commission a design of your own. Contact Gill Russell to place an order or to get more information.

Example prices …for full colour A3 posters on 130gsm gloss art paper:

Email us now - contact to place an order or to get more information.


Popularising Science / Astronomy

Planetarium Technology

Visitor Centres



CosmicSky is keen to develop further creatiive collaborations with planetariums elsewhere. We are also willing to develop shows, audio-visual presentations and performances in our unique style.

For more information contact:

Dr Gill Russell

Dr Francisco Diego

Brian Hill