Library exhibit is out of this world

February 06, 2011|By DAVE MCMILLION |
  • Maria Cole reads one of the boards from "Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery," a traveling exhibit on display at the Smithsburg Library until March 4.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG — The Smithsburg branch of the Washington County Free Library is giving local residents a chance to learn about space discovery, from the time Galileo gave birth to modern astronomy in 1609 to NASA’s Apollo missions on the moon.

An exhibit at the library covers topics like firestorms on the sun, the surface of Mars, the nature of comets, star birth and distant galaxies, said Ashley Hutson, the library’s branch manager.

The exhibit, which has been provided to more than 55 libraries across the nation, also offers images of planets, stars, comets and galaxies taken by NASA’s powerful astronomical observatories and spacecraft, Hutson said.

The exhibit, “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery,” opened at the library at 66 W. Water St. on Dec. 15 and runs until March 4, Hutson said.

The images and stories about space exploration are featured on six panels in the center of the library. The panels, which are about 5 feet high, are in a staggered pattern, which encourages visitors to go from panel to panel.

The first panel talks about Galileo and how he improved the spyglass to look toward the heavens, giving birth to modern astronomy.

The second panel features the moon, a “familiar, yet strange world.” One astronaut described the moon as “magnificent desolation,” according to the panel. The panel features a large picture of the moon bearing the caption, “Full Moon, Kitt Peak National Observatory 2002.”

The other panels deal with the sun, Mars, Saturn and comets.

On Jan. 7, H. John Wood of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies visited the library. Wood worked to develop the Hubble Space Telescope, Hutson said.

Several events have been scheduled in conjunction with the exhibit, including a moon watch, which will be held at the library on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., Hutson said.

A movie night featuring “IMAX Space Station” will be held Feb. 25 from 7 to 8 p.m. Throughout this month, elementary school groups are expected to visit the library to see the exhibit, she said.

“It’s great for all ages. It has text, but it also has beautiful pictures that inspire children, I think,” Hutson said.

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