Our New Science Adventure: Newark Has a SciDome

DawesArb-400wResidents of Kendal at Granville have their favorite sites in nearby Newark, the county seat just 5 miles away. Mine are the Dawes Arboretum, the nationally renowned display garden for the flora of the Midwest and beyond; and The Works, the oddly named hands-on museum of science, art, history, industry, technology and glass-blowing, as these subjects pertain to the central Ohio region. In my experience, the Dawes Arboretum is a hit with visiting adults and The Works is a hit with visiting grandkids. Over the summer of 2018, The Works opened a marvelous addition — a real planetarium, called the SciDome. It turns out to be a treat for both adults and grandkids alike.

SciDome-ext-400wA visit to the SciDome is like a visit to a magic studio. Visitors enter a dimmed theater and settle into comfortable, reclining chairs. We are aware that above us sits a dome of uncertain distance and dimensions. As the theater darkens and the show begins, we see objects beginning to emerge on the dome’s surface, products of the extraordinary projection system that gives the SciDome its remarkable range of applications.

The titles of the regular shows demonstrate the breadth of its utility:

  • “The Sky Tonight,” which projects the sky (anywhere on Earth; anytime – past and future) as it might be seen from an observation site uncontaminated by any man-made illumination;
  • “Voyage through the Solar System,” which offers a tour of the planets from Mercury to Pluto (I grew up before poor Pluto was demoted) and includes visits to dwarf planets and asteroids; and
  • “Icy Birth, Fiery Death: The Life Cycle of Stars,” which portrays the evolution of various classes of stars.

SciDome-stds-400wThen there are special shows, on such topics as interstellar travel and the possibility of exceeding the speed of light, on the moon, on planetary exploration, and on strategies for widening human knowledge of the universe. Some of these shows are specifically aimed at children, but others see adults as their audience — for who among us at some point in childhood hadn’t wanted to grow up to become an astronomer?

The SciDome is not limited to astronomical applications. It allows the interaction of atoms and molecules to be shown in projected three-dimensional space, it gives visualization to the internal workings of living cells, it permits teachers to show an embryo develop across the whole trajectory of gestation. These are all reasons the SciDome has become a classroom for local high school students and for college students from The Ohio State University at Newark and the Central Ohio Technical College.

In short, the opening of the SciDome at The Works has given Kendal residents a dazzling new opportunity to widen their own knowledge and to entertain visitors, guests, and, perhaps particularly, children.

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