Despite the sheer number of dazzling sites New York City has to offer, not many things can distract a determined commuter from reaching his or her final destination. For the next two days, however, those passing through Grand Central Terminal will have a reason to stop and look up: its celestial ceiling is serving as a canvas for Unseen Stars, a new light show that’s honoring influential female scientists and engineers. It debuted yesterday night, and will be on view from September 19th-21st. 

Preparation for the first light show on Tuesday

Back in February, General Electric (GE) announced its Balance the Equation initiative to grow its workforce of professional women in science, manufacturing and engineering roles. The light show is another extension of its continuing effort to elevate and celebrate women in STEM, whose work is often overlooked.

We attended the first light show yesterday and had the opportunity to speak with Will Chase, the Head of Communications at OBSCURA. You might recognize some of OBSCURA’s previous work: its the same creative studio that illuminated the Empire State Building and St. Peter’s Basilica with towering images of endangered species, creating one-of-a-kind immersive multimedia experiences.

Will Chase took us behind-the-scenes to see the projection system

For its latest project at Grand Central Terminal, OBSCURA utilized 32 Christie Digital 4K20 30,000 lumen projectors (a total of 960,000 lumens) to project its images onto the ceiling. Sixteen projectors were set up over custom truss structures erected on the north and south of the terminal, over a balcony above the escalators, and over the ramp from Vanderbilt Hall to the Main Concourse, respectively.

The show itself is a 7-minute projection, featuring the faces of 12 female scientists and engineers, including Megan Smith, the first female U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Laurie Leshin, Ph.D, a geochemist in search of life on Mars. In keeping to the already existing celestial-theme of the terminal’s ceiling, the custom-designed animations were based on iconic constellations, and set in a fabricated universe.

The ethereal experience, which culminated in a round of heavy applause after its first public presentation, will continue to run for the next two days at the following times:

  • Wednesday, September 20 (5:42 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.)
  • Thursday, September 21 (5:42 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.)

To the 750,000 people who pass through Grand Central Terminal on a daily basis, we recommend heading to Michael Jordan’s The Steak House NYC, which is located on the North balcony of the terminal. It offers a perfect vantage point to view the show (plus, you can grab a drink).

Michael Jordan’s The Steak House NYC

For more, make sure to also join us for an upcoming tour of Grand Central Terminal, where we’ll discover its various secrets, from its hidden tennis court to its lost armchairs.

Tour of the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal
Next, discover the Top 10 Secrets of Grand Central Terminal and check out our full line up of tours.