By DAVID JONES
EARLY TOUR: Members of the Rotary Club of Tulsa were given a tour of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum Planetarium on March 29. The facility will open to the public on May 9.
Courtesy Tulsa Planetarium
On May 9 Tulsans will be able to stretch out, lean back and peer into infinity.
After three and a half years of planning, fund-raising and construction, the Tulsa Air and Space Museum Planetarium, situated next to the Air and Space Museum at 3624 N. 74th E. Ave. (on 36th Street North between Sheridan Road and Memorial Drive), will be open for business.
Actually, a handful of Tulsans have already gotten a sneak preview and, as one of those happy few, I can tell you that the rewards of going are considerable.
“We are going to offer two types of events,” says Larry Anduss, past chairman of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and still a member of the board.
“When schools come calling, we will offer a fully live star show with an animated feature with educational value. For the public, we will have a 25-35 minute feature ending with a live star show. Most of the programs will run about 40 minutes.”
The planetarium is a $3 million project, with $2 million coming from monies provided by Vision 2025 and the rest raised by private donations. Kathryn Pennington, who came to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum as a University of Tulsa graduate student doing a feasibility study, now is the executive director of both the museum and planetarium.
The experience offered by the planetarium is unlike any other. One enters a small auditorium (only 110 seats) and leans back in a luxurious seat tilted at an angle that allows the person to see the ceiling without neck strain. What is seen is a dome with a diameter of 50 feet that is so big that when the picture is projected on the ceiling it takes up all of one’s peripheral vision.
For those who like to be on the cutting edge of technology, the fact that the projector shows no film but is entirely digital will be of considerable interest.
The projector is unlike other planetarium projectors. It has only a single lens and the seamless dome gives a view of the heavens unmatched by older planetariums.
The fact that the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium are a two-minute stroll from each other has allowed for some economic efficiencies. For example, the gift shop as well as the lunch area for both will be located in the Air and Space Museum.
When it comes to prices of admission, the museums are separate entities. For either museum adults can get in for $6, senior citizens, military and students are $5 each with children from 5-12 getting in for $4 and younger children free. For those wanting to make both museums on the same day there with a combined attraction ticket with the prices set at $10, $8 and $6.
Hours for the two museums are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. It will be closed Mondays.
“We’re just about opened,” says Anduss, “but I don’t think this will be the end. I’d like to look at future expansion. I don’t know what it would be yet, but we want to be ready.”
For more information, call (918) 834-9900, or see www.tulsaairandspacemuseum.com