Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer at The Franklin Institute Download

29:48 Download December 13th, 2023

Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer at The Franklin Institute discussed the opening of their newest CORE exhibit, Wonderous Space, a two-story interactive installation demonstrating what it is like to live, work, and play in space while also showcasing the rich diversity of science and technology and the innovative people in the space industry. Dr. Pitts tells us that it looks at the universe and our relationship with it, from space travel to innovations that we use every day, such as satellite communications and microchip technology. With the opening of Wonderous Space the Franklin boasts space science on all 4 floors of the museum, with the Fels Planetarium on floor 1, the Holt & Miller Observatory on floor 4 and the 2-story Wondrous Space exhibit between them.

The giant Fels dome—measuring 60 feet in diameter—displays how the actual night sky would look like without the interference of weather, pollution, or city lights. 

The Holt & Miller Observatory houses the 10” Carl Zeiss Refracting Telescope, one of the largest historical artifacts in their collection and it provides the opportunity to safely view the Sun, including features such as sunspots and prominences, while the rooftop location offers a unique view of the Philadelphia Skyline. Dr Pitts described the programming that will accompany the exhibit, as well as the on-going educational opportunities for students and adult learners.  He noted that diversity was an important part of the planning, showing the wide range of jobs and professions within space exploration and the introducing them to the scientists and delevopers who look like them.  He also discussed the importance of STEM to encourage young people to join the field.   We talked about membership and how to plan a visit to the Franklin to get the most from the experience, starting with the museum’s website, FI.edu

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