On February 8, 1997, the Auburn Astronomical Society visited the Coca-Cola Space Science Center in Columbus. Special thanks to Luther Richardson, who led the tour of the facility and to Kevin Scott for the show and demonstrations in the planetarium. For those who were not able to attend, a brief summary:
The evening at CCSSC began with a program in the Omnisphere Theater, "Journey to Infinity". The Omnisphere featured interactive keypads on the arm rests that allowed audience members to test their astronomical knowledge prior to the program. We then "traveled", via the magic of the Digistar projector, through the Solar System and beyond; returning to Earth near Fort Benning, flew above the Chattahoochee River to downtown Columbus, made a U-turn at the Dillingham Bridge and "landed" back at CCSSC. The Digistar's special effects, combined with the battery of projectors and tremendous sound system bordered on sensory overload.
From the observatory, we went to the space Shuttle mock-up and sat in the cargo bay as Luther described the "Challenger Center" mission program available to students. Classes are divided into three teams: The shuttle crew, the space station support crew, and mission control. Each of the stations is an authentic replica of their real world counterparts and each team member's tasks are essential to a successful completion of the mission.
At this point, we returned to the planetarium have Kevin put the Digitstar through its paces. We traveled from the Sun to Sirius, watching the constellations distort as we made the nine light-year trip in about ten seconds.
I thought that the star images on the dome were as sharp as the old "starball" technology. Even if they weren't, it's so much more versatile, that any compromise was far out weighed by the additional features. I was very impressed with the entire facility and the staff. I'm looking forward to a return visit.
|Marty Skelton and Mike Fulmer pose in front of the Space Shuttle mock-up.|
|Laura, Mike, Luther and Robin with the Meade 16 inch SCT in the CCSSC Mead Paper Products Observatory|
|Mike fantasizes about what his 10 inch might grow up to be, while Roberts starts to take the LX-200 controller apart.|
|Mike gets another black ring around his eye from the old "ink on the eyepiece" gag, while Russell starts to worry that someone might notice that the camera is missing from its mount on the 16 inch.|
|(L-R) Ricky Wood, John Zachry, Scott Thompson and Ron Hatherley|