Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tellus Museum adds historic space artifacts, new exhibits in 2014

ATLANTA -- Science exhibits from space and a clearer view into the celestial heavens were only a few of the top events occurring at the Tellus Science Museum near Atlanta during a fast-paced 2014.

The fourteenth year of the 21st century opened at Tellus with the introduction of the largest Moon rock to go on public display in Georgia. Cut from a larger rock collected during NASA fourth manned lunar landing, the four-ounce piece of the "Great Scott" rock drew large crowds to the museum's expanding space flight exhibit. NASA listed "Great Scott" as the second largest moon rock ever recovered during the six lunar landings.

"Tellus is proud to display a lunar sample retrieved during Apollo 15," Tellus Museum's curator Julian Gray said in January. "The sample is the largest on display in Georgia and is the centerpiece of the new Apollo exhibit."

Tellus also received for display from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum a real lunar module engine which was test fired by the space agency in Mississippi in 1972. The lunar module was used to taxi two astronauts to the Moon's surface and back from the command ship soaring in lunar orbit.

The science museum received a new eye on the sky in February as the planetarium's forty-foot wide dome upgraded to the Media Globe III HD projector. The new Konica Minolta-built projector provides a stunning view of our galaxy on the museum's dome at nearly 1.9 million dome pixels -- an increase of one million pixels over the previous system.

"We are very excited about our new planetarium projector – the graphics and image quality is going to blow everyone away!", Tellus Museum's Executive Director Jose Santamaria said. The new projector has allowed Tellus to conduct daily in depth astronomy presentations and showcase movie shorts which simulate a space flight. 

"It's our latest upgrade to our digital planetarium," Tellus' chief astronomer David Dundee stated in February. "It increases our resolution by over 200 percent and the contrast ratio is up by over 100 percent so we have a very beautiful starry sky."

The nose cap from the space shuttle Columbia was placed on display in March and became a top draw as museum members and guests visited Tellus to view the space flown object. The five-foot wide nose cap flew as a part of the ill-fated shuttle during 11 of her 28 flights, and is the only reflown section of Columbia's fuselage to be placed on public display.

"To have such an important piece of Columbia from her flying days on display is a fitting tribute to this vehicle and all the men and women who worked on her during her illustrious career," said Dr. Don Thomas, a three time Columbia astronaut and author of the book, Orbit of Discovery.

The historic nose cap will remain on loan from the NASA Historical Artifacts Program throughout 2015. The displayed shuttle nose section traveled 48.4 million miles through space during it's combined 117 days in earth orbit.

The 120,000 square-foot museum is known for it's rare fossils, dinosaur recreations and astronomical observatory. Tellus continues to work with the Smithsonian Institution to procure both short and long term science exhibits, including space-flown parts from the space shuttle.

"A key to our success is our special events throughout the year," Santamaria explained as he paused by Tellus' massive gem and stone exhibit. "RockFest and Heavy Metal in Motion were fun; and I had a particularly good time at Night at the Museum where I played one of my heroes, Leonardo da Vinci."

As summer drew to a close, Tellus' sixth annual Night at the Museum continued the museum's popular fan favorite event. Science for all ages played out as The Tellus Madd Scientists provided a dose of education as they demonstrated science experiments in the main theater. And, historical figures such as the Wright Brothers and Albert Einstein from the science community arrived to create a fun evening of entertainment.

"The event just gets bigger every year," Tellus' Marketing Director Shelly Redd said a few days prior to the event. "We've added tons of new characters to our line up." Redd added that Tellus will host Night at the Museum VII this August.

Located northwest of Atlanta off of exit 293 and I-75 in Cartersville, the museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is closed on New Years Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

"We have more coming in 2015, including more hands-on exhibits throughout the museum, new planetarium shows, and a very special exhibit on vintage motorcycles," Santamaria added. "We hope that every time someone visits, there will be something new to see."

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