24 Jul 2009
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If you haven’t heard about Morehead’s new PLANETS portable planetarium program, here’s a sneak peek for you.

portable planetarium inside Morehead\'s Star TheaterThe big “ant” at upper left is our Zeiss Model VI star projector, the centerpiece of Morehead’s Star Theater (and one of only six in the U.S.). The black “igloo” at upper right is the new PLANETS dome, which you’ll see visiting schools and communities across North Carolina.

And the smiling folks in front? You might recognize some of them as our Carolina Skies presenters (we call them “Sky Ramblers”) — Meteor Mike, Richard, Mickey Jo, Elysa, Alisa and Amy. You’ll see Elysa (holding the globe) on the road with PLANETS most often.

Karen Kornegay is Morehead's marketing manager.

Tom MarshburnI’ve got to admit it. I meet some pretty cool people in my job. About three years ago, we hosted Tom Marshburn as a guest speaker during the “Destination: Space” premiere weekend activities. Tom is a NASA astronaut who happens to be a North Carolinian. He’s a Statesville native and a Davidson graduate.

I remember thinking at the time what a great role model Tom is for kids. As well as being an astronaut, he’s a medical doctor and seems like an all-around nice guy. He was unfailingly gracious — even as the kids in the audience grilled him about going to the bathroom in space!

Well, yesterday on the 40th anniversary on the moon landing, Tom was living his dream and making headlines. He went space walking as part of current shuttle mission. Way to go, Tom!

Jeff Hill is Morehead's director of external relations

Here’s your hot travel tip for the summer. Membership. Most museum and science center visitors don’t even consider membership as an option unless the ticket seller mentions it, but membership really is one of the best bargains around at most museums and science centers. Consider Morehead for example. A tax-deductible Morehead family membership costs $60 and gets you free admission for an entire year. In comparison, if a family of four (two adults, two kids) visits, they’re going to pay $22 for admission. If they want to see a second show, add another $8. Considering tax benefits, that family more than breaks even on just two visits.

Association of Science-Technology CentersAnd the savings don’t stop there. One of the best parts is the reciprocal agreement that a lot of museums and science centers have for each other’s members: free general admission to participating museums. Morehead participates in a reciprocal agreement with other science centers through the ASTC Passport Program (one big caveat: the reciprocal agreement does not apply to science centers and museums within 90 miles of Morehead). That means you can become a member at Morehead and visit science centers free across the country. I’m sure you’re thinking that it’s a limited number of science centers that participates. Nope. Check out the list for yourself on th ASTC Web site. Most of the biggest and most well-known science centers in the world are on the list. Exploratorium in San Franciso. Yes. The Franklin Insitute in Philadelphia. Check. The Field Museum in Chicago. You bet. Check out the admission prices for some of the science centers, and you’ll figure out in a hurry that membership is a great value.

So why do science centers offer such a bargain? It’s simple really. Think of it as a customer loyalty program. We want you to come as often as you like, and membership makes multiple visits affordable.

So if you’re looking for a great bargain, consider membership. By the way, there are other benefits, too. Get all of the info on our membership page. While you’re visiting that page, you can sign up for membership online or you can sign up when you visit Morehead. One more note, you will need a membership card to take advantage of the discounts at other science centers. Allow a few weeks for us to process your membership application and get it to you.

After you visit science centers using your Morehead membership, come on back here and tell us how it was!

Jeff Hill is Morehead's director of external relations

Morehead: Celebrating 60 Years of ServiceIn recognition of our 60th anniversary, we are extending a special membership offer — 13 months for the price of 12. Membership is already a great deal; this just makes it better. Visit as many times as you want during your membership for just $60 for the entire family. You also get plenty of other extras.

If you are already a Morehead member, you can take advantage of this special offer to extend your membership. Regardless of when your expiration date is, we’ll add the 13 months to the end of the membership.

While membership is a great value (and who isn’t look for great values these days?), membership is also a great way to support Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and its various science education activities. Private giving is ultimately a key to our ability to keep admission prices low; and members form the base of our private supporters.

Learn more about membership or register for membership online now.

Jeff Hill is Morehead's director of external relations

Morehead: Celebrating 60 Years of ServiceWe’re celebrating our 60th anniversary in May. The doors to what was then known simply as Morehead Planetarium first opened on May 10, 1949. We had one the first planetariums in the United States and the first in the world on a university campus. (Learn more about our history.) To celebrate 60 years of science and service, we’re going to offer up bargain-basement admission prices the for the anniversary weekend, May 9 and 10, 2009. So make sure to stop by, see a show and help us celebrate a North Carolina icon. Check back in a week or so on our home page for details.

And if you are a Morehead member, make sure to look for the latest edition of Sundial magazine in your snail-mail for an article reflecting on Morehead’s history. I especially love the quotes from designer and Chapel Hill native Alexander Julian who remembers interviewing astronauts at Morehead when he was in junior high.

Have you got any special memories of Morehead? We’d love to hear them.

Jeff Hill is Morehead's director of external relations

Earth Action Day LogoSaturday (April 18, 2009) is supposed to be a beautiful day. If you’re planning on taking advantage of the weather with a trip to Chapel Hill, check out Earth Action Day. It’s here at Morehead, however, we can’t really take credit for it. The Town of Chaple Hill with help from Briar Chapel and Duke Energy are staging the event. While you’re here, stop by to see a show or visit the gift shop.

After you visit, feel free to come on back here and post a comment.

Jeff Hill is Morehead's director of external relations

Dragonfly TV LogoIf you missed the celebration last Saturday for Morehead’s appearance on PBS’ “Dragonfly TV,” you missed a good time. But you can still catch the show itself. It airs today (April 3) on WUNC-TV at 4 p.m. The show features some local children (some of whom are Morehead regulars). This episode explores nanotechnology. News & Observer blogger Brooke Cain did a nice post on the show.

Jeff Hill is Morehead's director of external relations

Earth, Moon and Sun\'s New CoyoteExciting news at Morehead. We’ve received our new portable planetarium and started taking it on the road last week. A grant from the Chatham Foundation helped us purchase the dome and is helping us pilot the portable planetarium program in western North Carolina in Wilkes, Alleghany, Surry and Yadkin counties.

It’s exciting for us to be able to deliver astronomy content with the portable planetarium program now. A lot of teachers won’t even consider bringing their classes to Chapel Hill because it’s too far away for a field trip (Imagine a group of third graders on a bus for four hours each way). This portable planetarium will allow us to take the experience to them.

By the way, you may remember Jay Heinz posting some info about our new production of “Earth, Moon and Sun” a while back. Well, that’s the show that we are featuring in the portable planetarium. Check out the new coyote from the new version. If you’ve ever seen the old version of EMS, you can see that he’s gotten quite the facelift. This new version of EMS will be available in our dome in Chapel Hill after we complete renovations and technological upgrades.

Jeff Hill is Morehead's director of external relations

We made page one of the Triangle Business Journal this week in a story about our renovation plans. I have some mixed emotions about that. On one hand, there’s the adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity (Alex Rodriguez might beg to differ about now). On the other, I always fear jinxing plans by talking too publicly about them too early.

For those of you who are long-time followers of Morehead, you know that these plans have been years in the works.  This year, the project has made its way to the top of UNC-Chapel Hill’s capital projects priority list. I’m certainly biased, but I think it’s a great project — renovating one of the University’s iconic buildings and creating an infrastructure that supports Morehead’s role as a leader in science education in the process.

Of course, the catch is the timing. We’ve reached the top of the priority list just as the state faces the most difficult budget year in most of our lifetimes.  While the university and state government face serious budget cuts and private supporters grapple with reduced investment portfolios, there is still a lot of talk about the value of capital projects like ours as a tool for stimulating the economy.

And it’s true. This project could result in jobs today as well as support science education across the state that could result in jobs tomorrow. How does this all play out for Morehead? I don’t know, but I can tell you that we’re sensitive to the economic situation, appreciative of the support that we receive from all quarters and ready to put people to work if and when this capital project receives funding.

Jeff Hill is Morehead's director of external relations

16 Feb 2009
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My colleagues and I are on a lot of listservs for science center and museum professionals. An interesting item came through a few weeks ago on one of them. Someone on Capitol Hill saw fit to put language into and early draft of the stimulus bill that specifically prohibits stimulus dollars from going to zoos and aquariums. The zoos and aquariums were lumped in with a few other items like casinos and golf courses. I found that odd.

One can only assume that the writer believes that zoos and aquariums don’t stimulate the economy. However, the existence of venues like the Georgia Aquarium tends to contradict that assumption. The Georgia Aquarium cost $320 million to construct (jobs), employs more than 400 full- and part-time employees (jobs) and has helped spur a new wave of tourism-related growth in downtown Atlanta (more jobs). A Georgia State University study concluded that the aquarium’s impact on Atlanta’s economy would total between $1 billion and $1.5 billion during its first five years after opening in 2005. In addition, the aquarium encourages interest in science, a cornerstone of America’s 21st century economy.

All in all, I think we’ll be lucky if the stimulus package can produce projects with those kinds of benefits. By the way, that draft language prohibiting aquariums and zoos from being eligible for funding stayed in the bill that the House and Senate approved over the weekend and awaits President Obama’s signature.

Jeff Hill is Morehead's director of external relations