Bryan-Gooding Planetarium at MOSH

September 29, 2012 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article explores the evolution of planetariums at the Museum of Science and History.

Looking up at the night sky can be mesmerizing.  The seemingly endless, open space complete with a universe full of stars and planets larger than one can even fathom.  It is all too unattainable to see with our own eyes, right?  Well, not exactly.

With the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium at the Museum of Science and History (MOSH), audience members are able to witness extraordinary things they wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.  It is the largest single-lens planetarium in the world, and it's been in Jacksonville since 2010.

The Bryan-Gooding Planetarium

Since its opening in 1948, MOSH has always housed a planetarium. The original one was located in a house on Riverside Avenue, where the museum first opened. The current 60-foot-in-diameter dome surpasses any of the previous planetarium theaters in scope and size.

The Spitz A2, made by Armand Spitz in Chadds Ford, Penn., was the museum’s first installation.  The hand-operated star projector was funded by Robert Milam, and was often utilized in educational settings as an alternative to normally high-priced planetariums used in other cities. The Spitz A2 remained in service until 1970.

In 1975, five years after the Alexander Brest Planetarium replaced the first installation, MOSH presented its first light show.  Phillip Groce, director of the new piece, called the show a “Cosmic Concert” – the term is still used by MOSH today.

The planetarium if the first of its kind in Florida.
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The Alexander Brest Planetarium was presented in a new space theater on the second floor of the museum October 22, 1988.  Along with the 60-foot-dome, the theater included 200 seats and a Spacemaster planetarium.  Carl Zeis designed the Spacemaster – an optical mechanical planetarium that had the capability of projecting more than seven thousand stars at once.  The revolutionary creation operated in the museum for 22 years before being decommissioned on August 23, 2010.

In 2010, MOSH debuted the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium, which now serves as the star-child of all the previous installations because of its new technology.  Designed by Groce, it allows audience members to see images four times larger than the most high definition television in a 360-degree theater.

The planetarium was funded from the Bryan Family Trustees of The Henry and Lucy Gooding Endowment and estimated to be around $465 thousand. Throughout the 64-year transformation of the museum’s planetariums, providing space science education has always been a priority for MOSH. With the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium, they have just the right machine to maintain an incredible learning experience for visitors.

The home of Bryan-Gooding Planetarium
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article by Melanie Pagan

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