TJC space science center ready for takeoff
From 1963 to 2010, Tyler Junior College’s Hudnall Planetarium introduced countless East Texas schoolchildren to science and space. When the lights dimmed, all eyes turned skyward and imaginations were sparked as the mysteries of the universe unfolded.
Following a massive expansion and reconstruction, the facility reopens 9 a.m. Saturday as the Center for Earth & Space Science Education at Tyler Junior College. The public is invited to attend the ceremony and to enjoy the exhibits, shows and other fun, educational activities all day, free of charge.
The grand opening is presented by Eubanks Harris Roberts Craig Architects Inc.
With state-of-the-art facilities and expanded programming, the Center promises to inspire and entertain a new generation of East Texans, making it a premier field-trip destination for area schools as well as an educational attraction for TJC and the community.
Located at the corner of Lake Street and Palmer Avenue, the Center features a 40-foot, domed theater equipped with Digistar 4, the latest in digital projection technology. Real-time space flights and visits to other locations in the known universe are made possible by various interactive digital graphic software packages. TJC is one of two facilities in Texas to house the Digistar 4 system and one of 50 worldwide.
The Center also includes an instructional/workshop space and a series of outdoor, educational plazas, including a 15-foot diameter, granite sundial etched with analemmatic hour and month lines.
Presented by Suddenlink and CBS 19/KYTX, the planetarium’s inaugural show, "Cosmic Collisions", launches visitors on a voyage through space and time – well beyond the calm face of the night sky – to explore the hypersonic impacts that drive the dynamic and continuing evolution of the universe.
Narrated by award-winning actor, director and producer Robert Redford, the 25-minute film features groundbreaking scientific simulations and visualizations based on research developed by astrophysicists, scientists at NASA, and other international colleagues – many seen for the first time – to depict the dramatic and explosive encounters that shaped our solar system.
The original Hudnall Planetarium remains an important part of the new science center and has been converted into an interactive area where visitors can enjoy ever-changing exhibits and plasma-screen displays with real-time video from NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute.
The debut exhibit, "Great Balls of Fire: Comets, Asteroids and Meteors", is presented by Southside Bank. It will include a variety of interactive, multimedia experiences, ranging from straightforward computer-based activities to a larger scale, "pod" in which visitors play the role of explorers-in-training – an important theme that threads throughout the exhibit. TJC is the host venue for the national premiere of the "Great Balls of Fire" exhibit.
For more information on the Center for Earth & Space Science Education at TJC, call 903-510-2312 or go to www.tjc.edu/cesse.