Lockheed gift means access to Hubble Science Center visitors will get to gaze upon distant heavens

A new Baltimore attraction

'Inside the planetarium, you'll feel like you're in the sky'

July 01, 1996|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,SUN STAFF

Maryland Science Center visitors will soon get close-up glimpses of far-off galaxies filtered through the lens of the Hubble Space Telescope.

With a $180,000 gift from Lockheed Martin Corp., the Inner Harbor tourist attraction plans to open the National Visitors Center for the Hubble Space Telescope in February.

The center focusing on the orbiting observatory will feature time-lapse Hubble images, complemented by computer animations, on the dome of the Davis Planetarium.

As part of the project, the Science Center also plans to create new exhibits related to the telescope in a renovated and redesigned second-floor section devoted to Hubble exhibits.

In the IMAX theater, Hubble images will be shown before features.

With Science Center experts serving as guides, computers will provide visitors with access to Hubble discoveries as they become available on the Internet.

"There's a lot of interest in the new stuff that comes out of Hubble, and we'll produce this stuff so it's available to people immediately," said Judith Hallberg, the Science Center's senior program director.

"For anyone interested in space science and astronomy, the Maryland Science Center is going to be the place to be next year. When you sit in-side the planetarium, you'll feel like you're in the sky, inside the Hubble."

The Science Center -- drawing about 500,000 visitors a year, less than a third of those who flock to the city's premier attraction, the National Aquarium -- has struggled in recent years to build its attendance. And its leaders hope the new Hubble center will attract more visitors next year.

The Hubble center represents one of numerous new attractions tourism officials hope will significantly expand Baltimore's $1 billion-a-year tourism industry. About $500 million worth of new attractions and expansions of existing ones account for the bulk of downtown development expected to be completed in the next few years.

The new attraction will serve as the centerpiece for a year of programming centered on the theme "Up to the Stars," Hallberg said.

In 1990, the Science Center became home to the Official Visitor Center of the Hubble Space Telescope, a collaboration between the Science Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute, the telescope's manager.

The institute schedules, processes and maintains archives for the Hubble and provides expertise for the visitors center.

Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, has core businesses in aeronautics, electronics, energy and the environment, information and technology services, space and missiles.

Pub Date: 7/01/96

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