Tellus' programming to highlight celestial wonders
by Marie Nesmith
Apr 25, 2012 | 2081 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Crab Nebula is one of the colorful images that are part of Tellus’ exhibit that opens May 5. The Crab Nebula is the remnant of a supernova explosion witnessed by Japanese and Chinese astronomers in 1054. This nebula is 6,500 light years away and can be seen in the constellation Taurus.
Photo courtesy of NASA, the ESA and J. Hester (Arizona State University)
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With National Astronomy Day and a Hubble Space Telescope exhibit on the horizon, Tellus Science Museum invites patrons to look toward the heavens for inspiration.

National Astronomy Day

In honor of National Astronomy Day, Tellus will feature space-themed activities on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"[We hope people will gain] an appreciation of the sky," said David Dundee, astronomy program manager for Tellus. "In any of the events we do here at Tellus, we always hope that we can bring new people, and people will come and realize what a fun place Tellus is and come back, of course.

"But in all of our activities, especially when we do activities like this and we target families, we hope that families have a good time together in doing a quality activity like learning together and enjoying the sky together. So that's our aim in almost all the things we do here at Tellus, to try to bring people together to have some fun with science."

By extending its hours to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Tellus will provide patrons ample opportunity to tour the museum and its observatory, view planetarium shows and participate in children's activities, such as creating a solar necklace and building a model Hubble telescope. In the afternoon, the Meteorite Association of Georgia will give away small pieces of meteorites and in a separate offering, patrons can sign up for a drawing to win a telescope, courtesy of Astronomy magazine.

In addition to viewing celestial bodies with numerous telescopes on the lawn, provided by the Atlanta Astronomy Club, the public will be able to peer through the Tellus observatory's 20-inch instrument.

"[The purpose of] National Astronomy Day is to make people aware of the beauty of the sky," Dundee said. "Here at Tellus, we'll have the observatory open, weather permitting, during the day for looking at the sun safely with special filters.

"Then as it gets dark, we'll be looking at the sky and looking at things like Jupiter and Saturn and the moon and Venus, again weather permitting. ... To see a far away object through a big telescope is a very cool experience. You can see pictures of it on TV or on your computer but to actually put your eye up to the eyepiece of a big telescope and see the image yourself it's just a neat experience to be able to do that."

For the second year, Dundee also will guide patrons on 20-minute Star Walks at 9 and 9:30 p.m.

"That's one of my favorite things I like to do. I will grab a bunch of people who will congregate near the front of the museum and I'll take them outside with my green laser," Dundee said. "I will just tell them about the stars overhead and a little bit about the legends and lores. ... I'll probably highlight Leo the Lion.

"It's high in the sky and Mars is kind of in the stomach of the lion right now. And I'll probably talk a little bit about the fact that a long time ago Leo used to have a much longer tail. Now that tuft of hair at the end of the lion's tail is a separate group of stars called Coma Berenices."

Hubble Space

Telescope Exhibit

Starting May 5, the "Amazing Universe: Images from the Hubble Telescope" will be on display through Nov. 11 in the museum's temporary exhibit space, toward the back of the Science in Motion Gallery.

"The Hubble exhibit is going to be dazzling," Dundee said. "The thing about this exhibit [is] you can see the Hubble pictures on your computer or you can see them in books but you will see them in 8- to 12-foot wide graphics here at the museum. So we've taken the highest resolution files from NASA and printed them in these huge panels. It represents some of the finest works of the Hubble Space Telescope. The most stunning piece and the biggest piece that we will have in the gallery is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image.

"It's an image of about 6,000 galaxies that are around 12 to 13 billion light years away. So you actually catch a glimpse of what the early universe looked like and that's probably the most stunning. And we'll [also] have some beautiful pictures of objects in the throws of death, from black holes to supernova explosions."

Created by Tellus, the exhibit features 15 images and showcases the significance of the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990.

"There are a lot of images available from the Hubble scientists up in Maryland, where they have their offices," said Tellus Curator Julian Gray. "So we know that there are a lot of images available. So we picked some of the ones that would tell a great story of the science and the discovery of the Hubble Space Telescope but also that were visually stunning. So it's a combination of art and science. ... The Hubble was one of the first space telescopes that we sent up and, of course, when you have an earth-based telescope, you have the interference from the atmosphere and haze and lights and light pollution and things like that.

"When you send anything up into space, you automatically get a tremendous amount of better imaging capability. They have made a number of significant discoveries with this. The original deep field image, I think that was taken in 1997, just surprised everybody. They pointed the telescope at a blank piece of sky and came back with thousands of galaxies, not just stars. [Through the years] they have made a number of discoveries regarding star formations and the fate of galaxies and stars. So it's been a tremendous boon to science."

Encompassing 120,000 square feet at 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville, Tellus is comprised of four main galleries -- The Weinman Mineral Gallery, The Fossil Gallery, Science in Motion and The Collins Family My Big Backyard -- a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory. Opened in January 2009, the Smithsonian affiliate has attracted more than 500,000 visitors.

For more information about the museum or its programming, call 770-606-5700 or visit Admission for each offering -- the National Astronomy Day program or to view the Hubble exhibit -- will be $12 for adults; $10 for individuals 65 and older; $8 for children ages 3 to 17 and students with ID; and free for museum members and active military personnel with ID.