PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics: Birth of a Star

March 17th, 2018 by Misty Dawn

In our first segment, we discussed how the 2018 Olympic opening ceremony highlighted Korea’s ancient star charts and the celestial guardians who were used to track the movements of astronomical phenomenon and how they influenced Korean civilization. Our second segment, “Birth of a Star” also focuses on Pyeongchang, but instead focuses on the Olympics’ sister event, the 2018 Paralympic Games. Just as the Pyeongchang’s Olympics used its opening ceremony to honor Korea’s astronomical past, the 2018 Paralympics used its opening ceremony to pay tribute to Korea’s astronomical present by celebrating the formation of stars within its opening ceremony. To be more specific, the opening ceremony celebrated South Korea’s verification of a well known star formation theory.


In the finale of the Paralympics opening ceremony, we are shown a birds eye view of people forming lines and holding hands then moving chaotically over a swirling cerulean blue energy field. These simple motions are telling the story of a star’s formation. This organized chaos is mimicking the movement of turbulent gases present when a star begins its formation.


As the opening ceremony continues, we see the lines moving towards the center of the rotating field much like cosmic materials being pulled into the center of a developing star. As the lines chaotically encircle the center of the field, an open circular metal frame begins lowering from the ceiling emphasizing the creation of a spherical object. With each line that wraps around the center of the field, the circular frame inches closer to revealing what looks to be the formation of a protostar. Its shape and purpose become more evident when the lines of people have completely encircled the center of the swirling cerulean field and the sphere closes. After the frame closes, it begins to glow a bright golden yellow color, a color known to be associated with stars in the mid-temperature range.


As the sphere closes, the energetic atmosphere silences and another swirling field appears changing the cerulean blue field into a beautiful array of galactic purples, cosmic blues, and stellar white against a starry background. As we continue to watch the field change, the viewers see the colors begin to rotate and pull together until they form a tight circle of brilliant orange, celestial blue, and stellar white beneath the golden metal sphere. This vibrant reproduction is demonstrating how a nebular disk forms to increase the size of a protostar. In order to ensure that the star reaches full development, the nebular disk will continue to draw in materials until it reaches a point where thermonuclear fusion can begin.


Just when the the audience believes the image has finished changing, the circle of colors violently expands outward until only a cosmic blue ring remains. Shortly after this burst begins, all colors dissipate entirely leaving only the newly formed golden sphere which changes to a celestial blue and now hovers above its own small energy field of the same matching color. This too represents part of a star’s formation. In this moment of art reflecting life, the protostar has reached thermonuclear fusion and released a stellar wind stopping any further cosmic materials from being collected. It also represents the new star’s ability to produce energy in order to sustain itself.

Associated Links:

Watch South Korea’s star formation tribute at the Paralympics site!  (Skip to: 1:41:52).

Listen to South Korea’s newest stellar discovery on Arirang TV.

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Not only does God play dice, but… he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.”-Stephen Hawking

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