The Hayden Planetarium, long a fixture on the New York scene, has been replaced by the exciting new Rose Center for Earth and Space, and the result is sensational, an attraction that brightens the scientific and tourist scene and is not to be missed. For one thing, the architecture is dynamic, intriguing from the outside as you see a giant sphere through the huge glass panes, but even more so when you are inside the ultra-modern structure. Being in this building is a remarkable experience in itself.

One ascends in elevators to the show in the amphitheater. In the old Planetarium the focus was on the stars as seen from earth. But the new Hayden Planetarium, housed in a four-million-pound sphere is enhanced by the latest technology and knowledge. There is a customized Zeiss Mark IX Star Projector, and we are transported visually into the universe. We watch the earth fade into the distance as we glide about galaxies and planets and get a sense of the infinity beyond our own planet. A recorded narration by Tom Hanks provides the information with clarity that enables schoolchildren as well as adults to understand the essentials. The effect of the show is astounding.

Nearby a "Big Bang" experience is narrated by Jodie Foster as visitors stand around a circular barrier and look down. The so-called big bang believed to have spawned the universe, complete with visual flashes and sound effects, is simulated in a two-minute show. Then, as one descends down a spiral walk, one can view detailed panels recording various developments during 13 billion years of cosmic evolution. There are other attractions connected with the center, as well as more to be developed.

The Rose Center For Earth and Space is part of the American Museum of Natural History. The Center's entrance is on West 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. The suggested Museum admission charge of $10 ($6 for children, $7.50 for seniors and students), includes entrance to the Center, but not the Hayden Planetarium Space Show. The combined admission that includes the Space Show is $19 ($11.50 for children, $14 for seniors and students.) There are special discounts for groups. To reserve tickets phone 212-769-5200. For groups: 212-496-3586.

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