Bill Nye The Science Guy helps Science Museum Oklahoma launch planetarium campaign
Bill Nye’s love of science started with space and dinosaurs.
“Every kid loves science. Space and dinosaurs. You ask any normal person, of course who doesn’t love space and dinosaurs?” the entertainer known as “The Science Guy” said. “When you come here, I hope you get that same inspiration. I mean, a planetarium is the coolest thing to me. Who doesn’t love a planetarium?”
The mechanical engineer, television personality and science advocate spoke to local media Wednesday, the first day of a two-day stop at Science Museum Oklahoma. Also the CEO of The Planetary Society, a nonprofit group advancing space science and exploration, Nye is visiting Oklahoma City to help the museum formally launch its campaign to transform its planetarium.
Science Museum Oklahoma President and CEO Sherry Marshall said the planetarium has been a staple at the museum for four decades.
“But we have two-hour-long lines waiting to see a show. So, we are investing in a $5 million campaign to relocate the planetarium to the old OmniDome and have one of the few hybrid digital-optical projector systems for planetariums right here in Oklahoma City,” she said.
“We’re moving to a bigger dome: more seats, one of the highest resolution projectors available. Optical resolution projectors are some of the best stars available. They’re the brightest, they’re the sharpest, they’re the clearest. … To have a planetarium of this caliber in this part of the United States … we’re excited.”
Seeing brighter stars
The OmniDome Theatre closed in September 2015, said Communications Director Lindsay Thomas. The museum had difficulty finding films formatted for it, the projection equipment was failing, and parts were hard to find.
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The museum unveiled the first phase of its planetarium plan last year.
“Our equipment was 40 years old, and the duct tape’s duct tape kind of gave out. So, it was time, and our community spoke that astronomy education matters. They want to see it more. So, we had an anonymous donor step forward and say, ‘Hey, as part of your bigger planetarium plan … I’m going to invest in your digital system,’” Marshall said.
“So, we have digital stars right now. We can download current information direct from NASA in the morning and present it in the afternoon. It’s amazing the capabilities, so (we’re) taking that to the next level.”
Bringing star power
Best known as the host of the 1990s children's science show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” Nye participated at the museum Wednesday in a live afternoon recording of the “Planetary Radio” program and was the honored guest at an evening reception, screening of the documentary “Bill Nye: Science Guy” and Q&A.
Thursday, Nye will talk about “Jack and the Geniuses,” his children’s book series, at 10 a.m. in the museum auditorium. The OKC chapter of The Planetary Society will offer a STEM expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. throughout the museum.
“My favorite thing about science: it’s how we know nature. It’s — I claim — the best idea humans have ever had … so what’s not to love?” Nye said.