For quite a while I’d been interested in the starry ceiling concept for my HT, and a few months ago I finally decided to take steps to make it happen. I began to get familiar with the fiber optic solution through descriptions and photos, but wasn’t able to see an actual example until I learned that a friend and fellow HT enthusiast had just completed an installation as part of his theater build (in progress). I thought his ceiling display was really nice and was further inspired to flesh out my own plans.
As I continued to make preparations, I happened upon the Night Sky Mural website. At that time, I had not heard about mural painting as an option and, at first, mistakenly thought the site was another of the competing fiber optic approaches which I had come across while investigating the star field concept.
Anyway, like several others who have posted on this thread, I became more and more intrigued by the glow-in-the dark painting approach. Before long, I began to feel that a night sky mural was a better fit (in my particular theater room) for creating a star field display on the ceiling. Here are the some of the reasons that led to my conclusion:
1) The center ceiling light of my room would have to be eliminated altogether
in order to fit a fiber optic star field in the desired area.
2) The location of the A/C vents on the ceiling would severely limit the size of the “sky window” I envisioned above the seating area---the max length of the fiber optic panel could be no more than about 8 feet. The other dimension of the window would likewise have to be limited (to about 4 feet), because the ceiling begins to slope downward just to the rear of the seats, and also because I did not want to remove a decorative ceiling canopy that my wife and I had made and installed between seating and screen. Bottom line: my window on the stars couldn’t accommodate a fiber optic panel any larger than approximately 4’ X 8’
. Not an insignificant size and nicely situated above the seating…but not as large as I would have liked.
3) I couldn’t shake the motivation to find some way to cover more
of the ceiling with stars, i.e., to achieve something larger than a window-sized display.
As I continued to think about options, I began to realize that that the night sky mural would allow me to achieve a full ceiling display in my room without modifying the ceiling at all
. I was amazed to learn that the mural could be painted on a great variety of surfaces, including popcorn ceiling texture, fabric canopy material, wall paper, light fixtures, and A/C vents. As a consequence, it was not
necessary to eliminate the center light fixture or to limit the size of the star field because of the other considerations I mentioned. So, the painting allowed me to expand beyond my smaller “sky window” approach. It was now possible to have a grander view of the stars that encompassed the entire ceiling area
, including the fabric covered ceiling canopy in the front as well as the sloped, wall-papered ceiling in the rear.
At that point, I was really getting excited about the mural approach, so I communicated via email and phone with the owner/operator of Night Sky Murals (as it happens, the starter of this thread). We corresponded extensively back and forth with questions and answers for a couple of weeks before I finalized my decision. The whole process has been and continues to be a very positive experience. My wife and I love the mural---to us, it is a beautiful work of art, inspiring and remarkably realistic in its depiction of the night sky as it appears in conditions of minimal light pollution. Another great part of the experience has been getting to know the artist himself, a very nice guy and very easy to work with. He is, however, reluctant to accept the title of “artist”. I appreciate his modesty but I disagree with him about that. I believe there is a great deal of skill involved in his painting (in its detail as well as perspective). Moreover, he has put much effort over the years into finding the best paint mixture that evokes (somehow!
) a twinkling “atmospheric effect” that strikes the viewer as uncannily similar to the actual night sky. So, I’ll repeat here what I told him personally: “If art can be defined as a creative representation of reality, then a night sky mural is a work of art and you are an artist.”
I’ve shared some of my thoughts and experiences about the sky mural concept and how it seemed just the right fit for our home theater. As J ("Night Sky Murals") has stated in this thread and elsewhere, there are upsides and downsides associated with both murals and fiber optics. So, before you decide on either option, take time to consider and plan carefully. Whichever you choose, I’m sure you’ll enjoy a new perspective on the cosmos and perhaps be inspired in ways you had not anticipated.
Happy home theater-ing!
"Joy in Being is not found by grasping at life selfishly, as though it were a possession that could be owned…but in receiving life as the Creator’s gift and realizing the profound cosmic privilege of having received it."