Monday, April 25, 2011
Science and nature come to life as dinosaurs and space exhibits take center stage at the world-class Tellus Science Museum located in northwestern Georgia.
Opened in January 2009, the science museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., and home to four main exhibit areas -- the Science in Motion Gallery, a rocks and minerals gallery, the Fossil Gallery and breathtaking Planetarium.
The Science in Motion exhibit features vintage models from over 100 years of transportation.
A full-scale model of the Wright Brother's Flyer fills one room as it overlooks some of the first automobiles and motorcycles from the turn of the 20th century.
A recreated burned-out shell of the Apollo 1 command module -- used in the Tom Hanks HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon -- is featured in the exhibit. The module was used in the film to dramatize the January 1967 Apollo launch pad fire which claimed the lives of three astronauts during a launch pad practice countdown.
Adjacent to the module is a model of the Mercury spacecraft which carried the first Americans into space fifty years ago on May 5; and an actual tire used by the space shuttle Atlantis as she landed in 1996.
Beautiful paintings based on the space shuttle program by historical artist Mort Kunstler line the center's walls providing a decorative look at the personal side of NASA's human space flight.
Across the hall, the museum's 120-seat Planetarium is located near the main entrance and offers a variety of astronomical shows every forty-five minutes.
A digital projector in the domed room gives visitors a unique prospective as they soar upon the ocean of space and past galaxies during a detailed narrative show.
Tellus will celebrate national Astronomy Day on Saturday, May 7 with a full slate of activities for kids and adults alike.
Gaze up at earth's closest star, the Sun, in a safe way through Tellus' telescope, and end the day with star gazing views during two shows at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Tellus recently joined a small NASA network of meteor watching camera's designed to spot and record incoming meteors from below 100 miles high as they near the earth's atmosphere.
The science museum's astronomy program manager David Dundee noted the first meteor was tracked by the new Tellus camera on March 17, just two hours after the camera became operational.
"We're seeing two to four meteor events every night," Dundee explained to this aerospace reporter. "The camera is triggered by a light in the sky, and begins tracking" with the other three regional cameras which back up one another as if to say it is not a plane or other object.
Tellus' new camera on the sky can help NASA determine the "direction, speed and orbital plotting of where the meteor came from in our solar system," Dundee added.
It demonstrates how Tellus has become a working science center in partnership with the space agency's location at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
Funding for the camera comes from NASA's astronaut safety program, which helps calculate meteorite impacts on orbiting space craft.
Images are relayed to Marshall in real time via an Internet line and studied by engineers to understand the space rock's nature.
Rocks and minerals are a favorite item of Tellus' employees as they work in what was a former mineral museum beginning in 1983.
Rocks and fossilized items are on display in several exhibits around the museum.
Tellus' Fossil Gallery is a favorite for children as they stare up at 41-foot Tyrannosaurus rex poised in a walking stance, or use specialized brushes to discovery fossils located beneath 'dirt'.
A 13-foot long Eremotherium laurilardi, also known as a giant ground sloth, is also on display cast from the bones discovered in Daytona Beach, Florida.
In fact the skeletal make-up of several land and water creatures are displayed giving visitors an in depth look at the mammals and fish from long ago.
Children can uncover real shark's teeth and stones as they search for the rare fossil treats in one section inside the museum. Nearby visitors can pan for colorful stones embedded in beach sand located in a water trough.
Located northwest of Atlanta just off exit 293 and I-75 in Cartersville, this science museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is closed on July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
As summer vacation time approaches, Tellus is a fun-filled, inexpensive option for those looking for a short day trip with the children.
Please visit the Tellus web site for the latest on membership, guest pricing, directions and schedule information.
As you conclude your visit and depart, be sure to take note as your child's head turns back one last time as the world of science educates their minds for learning.