Date: March 13, 2011

Title: Space Music


Podcaster: Carolyn Collins Petersen

Organization: Loch Ness Productions (
Music Geodesium (

Description: Carolyn Collins Petersen, TheSpacewriter, talks about how music and astronomy meld to create space music.

Bio: Carolyn Collins Petersen is a science writer and show producer, as well as vice-president of Loch Ness Productions, ( a company that creates astronomy documentaries and other materials. She works with planetariums, science centers, and observatories on products and projects that explain astronomy and space science to the public. Her most recent projects include documentary scripts, exhibits for NASA/JPL, the Griffith Observatory and the California Academy of Sciences, video podcasts for MIT’s Haystack Observatory and podcasts for the Astronomical society of the Pacific’s “Astronomy Behind the Headlines” project.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by the Carnegie Mellon University Physics Department is proud to sponsor 365 Days of Astronomy. CMU astronomers hope to explore and explain the mysteries of our cosmos through robust research, teaching and outreach programs.


CCP: This is Carolyn Collins Petersen, TheSpacewriter, and today, we’re going to explore astronomy through music. The last time you went to a planetarium you probably enjoyed a wonderful mix of astronomy and spacey sounds while you were there. Chances are that the music you heard was composed by an artist who goes by the name of Geodesium. His real name is Mark C. Petersen, and his compositions have been heard “under the dome” in more than 800 planetarium facilities around the world. In addition, Mark has a solid cadre of space music fans beyond the dome who have bought tens of thousands of his albums over the years.

His music is also what you’ve heard on each of my 365 Days of Astronomy podcasts over the last two years.

Mark’s music is created with astronomy in mind. Whether you hear it in a planetarium show – or listen to his albums for their own sake – you may find yourself transported off the planet and out to space.

I asked Mark to step up front and center and talk a little about the music that one reviewer has called “a cosmic odyssey that Mark has been conducting for his listeners for more than three decades.”

Mark: I’ve always been interested in astronomy and space exploration, ever since I was a little kid, learning constellations from H.A. Rey’s books.

When I create space music for planetarium shows, I get to take audiences out from under the dome and to anywhere in the universe they want to explore. By extension, when I put my albums on CD or put them on iTunes or Amazon or Rhapsody or wherever they get downloaded, that way I can speak directly to listeners who aren’t in the planetarium, and take them from my studio to the stars.

I just created a music video on YouTube that showcases this piece – it’s called “Light Echoes.” Visually, it’s a very compelling sequence of planetary nebulae zooming at us, with this music to accompany them. The effect is kind of like a funeral procession for these stars in their death throes.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but it’s interesting how some of the most quintessential sounds of the heavens I’ve done use harp and angelic choir voices.

There’s immense beauty and grandeur in the cosmos, and my music often speaks to that aspect. I want my music to touch the listener deeply, to transport someone from Earth to out in the universe — to inspire them to look up at the stars and dream.

CCP: On March 18, Mark is releasing his tenth album, entitled Stella Novus. It’s the latest in his ongoing celebration of space exploration through music.

Mark: Some people have said that this new album is music the Hubble Space Telescope would create if it could sing about its discoveries. It was inspired by places of starbirth, stardeath – distant galaxies — it just invites you to explore the depths of the cosmos in your mind as you listen. At least I hope it does!

You know, I’ve people tell me they’ve loaded my music onto their iPods and personal music players and taken it out with them when they go stargazing. I think that’s a great thing – I think it transcends the dome. And anyway, you’re outside under the starlight sky – with my music. I love it!

CCP: If you’d like to learn more about space music and the music of Geodesium, point your browser to and click on the 365 Days of Astronomy tab.

Thanks for listening!

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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