As part of this exciting new adventure into STEAMy topics, I've decided a monthly field trip is in order. Since I can't physically take you all with me (though I would love to), I'll be providing you with a spiffy virtual tour of a nifty place or exhibit each month...and hopefully you'll be inspired to do some field tripping of your own! :)
Where Did We Go?
To soak up the glory that was eclipse totality (so, so, soooo amazing!) earlier in August, we packed the family into the car and headed to Columbia, SC. Wanting to make the most of our travels, we planned a few adventures in addition to our eclipse viewing at the zoo. One of those adventures turned out to be such a super-win that we have every intention of returning to Columbia for a repeat experience...the South Carolina State Museum!
Some of you careful observers may notice that large dome on top of the building...yeah, that's totally an observatory that's open to the public. And guess what?!? On Tuesday evenings, the museum stays open until 10:00 pm for night sky observations! (Super bonus to that? You can still wander all about the place looking at the exhibits right up until 10:00...and the place was practically empty, so we were able to play and play and play.)
What Did We See?
Oh, so many things! In fact, we saw so many things that I won't even attempt to include them all here. I'll just share some of my favorites:
The Savage Ancient Seas exhibit was a wonderland of massive ancient sea critters.
Using this gorgeous beast of a telescope, we all got a view of Saturn...including those beautiful rings. (Seeing Saturn was a first for me, so I was more than a wee bit awestruck.)
I'm not sure if I was more enchanted with the planetarium shows we caught (one about those awesome sea creatures and another about the current night sky) or the dome itself (different dome than the one peaking out of the top of the building, of course).
The entire museum is a delightful maze of science, history, and cultural exhibits...all cased in a fantastic building of aged wood, brick, and concrete that creates this wonderful atmosphere or history and discovery...definitely an adventure worth having!
What Did We Learn?
This is one of those places that makes this question hard to answer...because there is so much to learn. I mean, we're talking about a place that has exhibits on everything from funk music to laser technology to the Revolutinary War. Let's just say that if you come out of this place with nothing new in your brain, you must be the most full-of-knowing-stuff person on the planet...like, you should probably be studied and stuff. ;)
One interesting thing that John (my wonderful husband) and I learned is that we definitely need to build one of these for our house:
Because who doesn't need a harmonograph in their daily life??? ;)
What Are We Still Wondering?
Mostly we're wondering when we'll get a chance to go back! The awesome volunteers and employees in the observatory told us that different times of year provide better viewing of Jupiter, so I'm definitely wondering when Jupiter is high in the night sky over South Carolina.
I'm also wondering about the ginormous tripod for the observatory telescope:
How tall is it? How much does it weigh? How much can it hold? What's it made of? How difficult was it to build it inside of the building? Who cleans that thing? Oh, I have questions!
Where You Can Learn More:
You can learn more about the South Carolina State Museum on their website.
If you're interested in finding an observatory near you, I would suggest searching for science museums (this list could help get you started) or astronomy clubs in your area...they're sure to be able to point you in the right direction.
The Savage Ancient Seas exhibit will be leaving the South Carolina State Museum in just a few days, but it is scheduled to appear at the Maritime Museum of San Diego in June of 2018. If you'd like to keep an eye on the exhibit's location and schedule, you can see their calendar here. (You can also book the exhibit...if you have lots of cash to spare and a really spacious living room, I suppose.) ;)
Have you been to any great museums recently? Tell us all about them! (If they sound super dreamy, we may even schedule a visit.) What's your all time favorite museum? Do you make time for museum visits in your travels? Do you plan your travels around museum visits?