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Interviews, images and video: 'Science Guy' Bill Nye celebrates Science Museum Oklahoma's planetarium campaign launch

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Well-known science advocate and television personality Bill Nye visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday. Nye joined Sherry Marshall, right, president and CEO of Science Museum Oklahoma, to formally launch the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]
Well-known science advocate and television personality Bill Nye visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday. Nye joined Sherry Marshall, right, president and CEO of Science Museum Oklahoma, to formally launch the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]
Science Museum Oklahoma has formally launched its "One Giant Leap" campaign to transform its old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Rendering provided]
Science Museum Oklahoma has formally launched its "One Giant Leap" campaign to transform its old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Rendering provided]

An abbreviated version of this story appears in Thursday's The Oklahoman.

Bill Nye The Science Guy helps Science Museum Oklahoma launch planetarium campaign

Bill Nye’s love of science started with space and dinosaurs.

“I grew up in the city of Washington, D.C., so I had access to the Smithsonian. … So, what are the two things: Space and dinosaurs. At the Smithsonian, they have ‘em all. So, I wandered around for countless hours. … 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 empowering people to advance 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 (Theater) 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. … We’re the state’s only hands-on science museum, and to have a planetarium of this caliber in this part of the United States … we’re excited.”

Well-known science advocate and television personality Bill Nye visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday. Nye joined Sherry Marshall, right, president and CEO of Science Museum Oklahoma, to formally launch the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]
Well-known science advocate and television personality Bill Nye visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday. Nye joined Sherry Marshall, right, president and CEO of Science Museum Oklahoma, to formally launch the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]
Science Museum Oklahoma has formally launched its "One Giant Leap" campaign to transform its old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Rendering provided]
Science Museum Oklahoma has formally launched its "One Giant Leap" campaign to transform its old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Rendering provided]

Seeing brighter stars

The OmniDome Theatre closed in September 2015, said Communications Director Lindsay Thomas. The museum had difficulty finding films formatted for the dome theater, the projection equipment was failing, and parts were getting hard to find.

In advance of the OmniDome move, the museum unveiled the first phase of improvements to the planetarium last year.

“Honestly, 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 right now,’” 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.”

In response to a person's question about his personal bow tie collection, Bill Nye, the Science Guy showed off one of his newest ties and announce that his collection exceeds 500 bow ties. The well-known science advocate and television personality visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday to kick off the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a top-notch planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]
In response to a person's question about his personal bow tie collection, Bill Nye, the Science Guy showed off one of his newest ties and announce that his collection exceeds 500 bow ties. The well-known science advocate and television personality visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday to kick off the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a top-notch planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]
Well-known science advocate and television personality Bill Nye visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday. Nye joined Sherry Marshall, right, president and CEO of Science Museum Oklahoma, to formally launch the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]
Well-known science advocate and television personality Bill Nye visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday. Nye joined Sherry Marshall, right, president and CEO of Science Museum Oklahoma, to formally launch the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]

Bringing star power

Best known as the host of the 1990s PBS 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 guest of honor at “An Evening with Bill Nye,” which included a VIP reception, screening of the documentary “Bill Nye: Science Guy” and question-and-answer session.

“I’m a performer. There’s certain people that want to be on stage and certain people that don’t, and I’m one of the guys that wants to be on stage,” Nye said at Wednesday’s press conference.

“The expression (is) when you’re in love you want to tell the world, and I love science. I think this process is fantastic. And I ask everybody what is it you liked about your favorite professor or your favorite teacher: It was his or her passion. … When the professor or the teacher is excited about it, then the students are excited about it. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.”

On Thursday, Nye will talk about “Jack and the Geniuses,” his sci-fi children’s book series, at 10 a.m. in the museum’s 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.

“When you’re talking about planetariums … this insight that there was a Big Bang and the universe is expanding and it’s accelerating and we are made of the dust – or the stuff – of ancient stars, means that we – you and I – are at least one way that the universe knows itself. That to me is astonishing. It fills me with reverence every day.”

GOING ON

"One Giant Leap" Planetarium Campaign Launch

Bill Nye's “Jack and the Geniuses” talk: 10 a.m. Thursday.

OKC chapter of The Planetary Society’s STEM expo: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday. Activities included with general admission or membership.

Where: Science Museum Oklahoma, 2020 Remington Place.

Information: sciencemuseumok.org/tps and sciencemuseumok.org/planetarium.

-BAM 

Related Photos
Well-known science advocate and television personality Bill Nye visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday. Nye joined Sherry Marshall, right, president and CEO of Science Museum Oklahoma, to formally launch the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]

Well-known science advocate and television personality Bill Nye visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday. Nye joined Sherry Marshall, right, president and CEO of Science Museum Oklahoma, to formally launch the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a world-class planetarium....

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[Rendering provided]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3041a31788bb075493989a006dd21b85.jpg" alt="Photo - In response to a person's question about his personal bow tie collection, Bill Nye, the Science Guy showed off one of his newest ties and announce that his collection exceeds 500 bow ties. The well-known science advocate and television personality visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday to kick off the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a top-notch planetarium. [Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman]" title="In response to a person's question about his personal bow tie collection, Bill Nye, the Science Guy showed off one of his newest ties and announce that his collection exceeds 500 bow ties. The well-known science advocate and television personality visits Science Museum Oklahoma Wednesday to kick off the museum's campaign to transform the old OmniDome Theatre into a top-notch planetarium. 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Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

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