Pre­pare to be WOWED!

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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!


By Karen Sul­prizio

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