Tennessee sparks curiosity
Curiosity about the wonderful world around us is highly encouraged in Tennessee. Natural history programs, hikes, and lots of planetarium shows are offered at state parks, museums, and science centers. Put your thinking cap on and get ready to hit up these three destinations for a full-day (or more) of scientific discovery and lots of family-friendly fun.
Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium
Gaze up at the twinkling constellations above at Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium in Kingsport. The park has two observatory structures which house a number of telescopic instruments. The roll-off observatory is a bit smaller than the “domed” observatory but both give great views of the heavens above. Public viewings are free and for everyone. Observations happen almost every Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. The next nighttime viewing is 7 p.m. Aug. 1.
You can also see a show in the $1.3 million, state-of-the-art planetarium that features a 40-foot dome, a Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector, and 6.1 surround sound. Grab binoculars during the show to see details in 24 deep-sky objects. The shows touch on moon details, other orbiting planets, and what constellations can be seen in the sky during different seasons.
Adventure Science Center
Explore the mysteries of space at Adventure Science Center in Nashville. Play while discovering other worlds beyond with the newest permanent exhibit wing, Space Chase. The 15,000-square-foot addition has a Star Walk where you can experience space’s darkness and the stars through an imaginary galaxy. Ever wonder what your heat signature looks like? Now you can with the Infrared Wall. Moonwalk; hit lighted targets to learn rockets’ trajectories by firing a special launcher at the Trajectory Trails; and experience zero gravity just like astronauts with the EVA Experience.
Laser shows and planetarium shows are always scheduled at the center. Cosmic Concerts feature laser shows tuned to the musical styling of They Might Be Giants, The Beatles, and Pink Floyd every Saturday in July. Led Zeppelin, Summer Laze, and Laser Dark will be featured in August. Learn all about the constellations in the Nashville sky; ride wind currents and experience the Earth’s climate system through supercomputer simulation. Dive into the head of a monster hurricane, and come face-to-face with oceanic creatures.
Discovery Park of America
Ever wonder what an earthquake really feels like? Head to Discovery Park of America in Union City for the simulation theater as it tells the story of how Reelfoot Lake came to be 200 years ago. Sounds, special effects, tremors and more fill the theater for a 270-degree ultimate viewing experience.
Transition from natural history to space exploration with a journey in the “interactive starship theater,” a 160-degree dome screen that has visitors launch a spaceship and steer it through the universe, all the while learning about planets and stars. Peer into the NASA solar scope to learn about meteorites, moon phases and glimpse at live images of Earth.
What’s your favorite Tennessee destination to discover the Earth and beyond? Let us know in the comments below!