Saturday, July 2, 2011

Scorpius and Antares

Thursday the girls and I spent the day cruising around Memphis. In addition to the Zoo, which we have been to so many times over the last 6 years that we no longer need a map, I decided that the Pink Palace would be a nice way to cool off and still learn something.

The Pink Palace has a museum, an IMAX theater, and a planetarium. We did not have a chance to see the IMAX.

The museum has natural history displays as well as some of the history of the city itself. It was interesting. Dd12 lit up like a Christmas tree when she saw the geology hall. (Homeschool mom takes notes, starts to plan science lessons for the fall...) We are still talking about the quartz crystal the size of our television.

The highlight of the visit was the Sharpe Planetarium. dd13 has always loved the sky and I figured even the less enthusiastic girls would like it. I was correct.

The program was different from what I saw when I went to a planetarium as a kid. This was just a pretty straight forward exploration of the Summer night sky from the southern USA. It focused on Antares, in the Scorpius constellation. From there we were shown how to find Vega, Altair, Deneb, Arcturus, Spica, and Polaris. We all walked out feeling rested (I loved those seats!) and educated.

I didn't realize HOW educated until last night (Friday.) JD and I returned home from our bimonthly budget date to a parking spot and walk toward the house that matched the orientation of the planetarium screen.

"Hey! There is Scorpius! And that star there in the middle is Antares," I said. I stopped and gawked for a few minutes. (It was a good night for gawking.) After a short time the girls started coming outside to see what we were looking at. As each one saw something she knew the name of the excitement level rose. All of us cursed the trees around the edge of the yard that are so lovely during the day.

"I can't see the Summer Triangle because of the trees!"

"The big dipper WOULD be over there, but the trees are in the way!"

"Is there a way to turn off the light on the pole?"

"This is SO cool!"

"We can't see the scorpion's tail because the house is in the way."

"Go get the binoculars!"

A trip to a museum that was pretty much chosen because it was indoors and air conditioned turned into a whole lot more. We all had a great time last night. Now I need to figure out where we can go nearby that has a larger open space and as little light pollution as possible.

I want to see what else we can see.

Here is a picture from Thursday that was NOT taken at the Pink Palace.
It is of a giraffe.

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