Prepare to be WOWED!
The gulf coast area of Sarasota/Bradenton may be renowned for beaches and balmy weather, but many would not be surprised to know that it includes an array of fun and educational areas that can defy the imagination. The Bishop Planetarium at the South Florida Museum is, by far, one of the mustgoto highlights. There is so much to see and do at the museum, that we have created two articles for you and will include the South Florida Museum and Parker Manatee Aquarium in the second article. The planetarium offers residents and visitors alike the chance to participate in some of the highest quality, 3D simulation, multimedia adventures, with the latest high tech audio and visual presentations. One visit to the Bishop Planetarium is guaranteed to give you that ‘wow’ experience and you will be returning for more. As part of the incredible South Florida Museum, the Bishop Planetarium is the area’s premier astronomy and educational facility. Located on 10th Street in Bradenton, FL, the theatre is a full dome, using the Digistar system and incorporates unidirectional stadium style seating with a 25,000 watt Dolby 5.1 digital surround sound system. What this means is that you walk through the doors and are immediately transported to a 3D simulation HD viewing and sound extravaganza. Using the specially designed software, the Bishop Planetarium can bring astronomy and educational programs that incorporate projectors to literally take you on a journey through the stars. You can start with an overhead, birdseye view of the rooftops of our area and before you know it, you are traveling out to the state, and then the country, then to earth itself and the galaxy. The vision of the stars are crisp and sparkling as you trek through planets, see the places where the stars are born and witness a star going nova. From the moment that you sit down, you feel as if you are traveling through space and time, in your own personal ship; seeing the beauty of our planet and gazing into the immense depth of the universe.
Jeff Rodgers, Bishop Planetarium Director is concentrically focused to bring the best programs and presentations that can compete with some of the large planetariums in the country. The software is being consistently updated and with the use of satellite data, through Bing and On Terra views, each person can have their own intimate touch with our planet, stars and even the universe. There are shows throughout the week and weekend, and have included such notables as: “Perfect Little Planet”, “Passport to the Universe”, “Life: A Cosmic Story”, and weekends only: “Live Star Talk”. The planetarium theatre brings an enormous benefit as host to films, live music, lectures and digital art presentations. The ever changing calendar has something new and adventurous every month, from the Rock Hall of Fame to the Perfect Little Planet. There is variety, intrigue and an enticement that can appeal to all ages, expanding the senses and the imagination.
The Bishop Planetarium is an integral component of the South Florida Museum, whose mission statement is: To engage and inspire learners of allages; we protect, interpret and communicate scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world, and our universe. As such, they use their resources to include expansion for programs to the community. Educational outreach has been a high priority and there are class visits for presentations for many of the local schools. Jeff Rodgers, however, doesn’t stop there; as Director of Education, he has specially designed instructional courses that are taught in collaboration with various local organizations, including: Longboat Key Education Center, The Pierian Springs Academy and University of South Florida’s Lifelong Learning Academy. Jeff has the ability to captivate an audience and launch interest into every topic, which can include both space related as well as historic Florida. In addition to external classes, they also offer home school courses that are cotaught by Jeff Rodgers and Samantha Sprague, the Museum’s Curator of Education. The curriculum combines group discussions, classroom activities and an extensive use of the planetarium. There is an entire team at the South Florida Museum that works together to form a cohesive group with focus on bringing the very best to the community. Each year, kids from the area can attend the ‘Summer Camp’, which would make even adults envious. There is always a segment set aside in the program for kids to explore the galaxy and stars. The Museum staff coordinates uniquely designed ‘Family Nights’ with programs for families to explore the entire Museum and engage with everything from films and live performances to exploring the entire Museum. There are also live performances as well as presentations, with titles such as: “Live Star Talk” 360” “SpacePark“and “Rock Hall of Fame”. If anyone is interested, they have an array of volunteers to work with the staff to help with tours and special presentations. There is never a dull moment at the Bishop Planetarium as they are ever changing and expanding their selections. Whether it is experimenting with the latest 3D scanners to examine and then project some of the smallest objects and magnify for a clear view on the wide dome, to keeping up with latest space exploration projects and technologies, the Bishop Planetarium continues to bring intense excitement and enjoyment for both mature and young alike. The South Florida Museum includes the Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Manatee Aquarium. All are located at 201 10th Street West, Bradenton, Florida. Admission is: Free if you are part of the Members of the Museum Friends Program, $18 for adults, $16 for Seniors 65 and over, $14 for children ages 412, Children 3 and under are free with a paying adult. Active military and teachers have free admission (with confirmed ID). The first Saturday of most months the admission is half price after 4 pm (Family Night), and there are group rates that can be arranged. The days and hours of operation are: Open 7 days a week January through April and the month of July. Mon thru Sat. 10 AM to 5 pm, Sundays 12 noon to 5 pm. All other months: open 6 days a week: Tues thru Sat 10 AM to 5 pm, Sundays from 12 noon to 5 pm. Closed Mondays during the months of May, June and August through December. This is one place that you are guaranteed to have an experience like no other. We will see you there!