TRIPS at Flandrau Planetarium


Joyce Clark

One of the most exciting and educational day trips to the University of Arizona campus is a visit to the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium. On January 24, 32 Quail Creek (TRIPS) participants experienced a double full dome viewing program. During “Tucson and The Sky Beyond” everyone learned how to find the various signs of the zodiac in our winter sky, the Milky Way, the North Star and our relationship to other planets. Directional appearance of these constellations varies with seasonality in our Northern hemisphere. Due to the Dark Skies Agreement with our community, Tucson displays much less ambient light than other parts of the country, thereby allowing spectacular sightings of the night sky. Our Quail Creek neighbors participate by following the guidelines of this agreement when purchasing outdoor lighting.

The second program, the IBEX Film, explained the use of the Interstellar Boundary Explorer. WOW! We were visually bombarded with stars, galaxies, constellations, comets and space junk. An amazing number of satellites circle the earth, appearing like a giant loosened and seemingly twisted yarn ball circling an egg (earth). This explorer has enabled scientists to more accurately map our solar system’s boundary which constantly changes.

Between the two shows, our participants visited one of the largest and most complete mineral museums in the country located in the same building, along with several scientific exhibits. However, the child emerged in each of us when trying our hand(s) at solving some of the mental, spatial and logical puzzles set up to intrigue curious minds. Most found this hands-on experience quite challenging and a lot of fun.

Finally, seated in a private room, our group enjoyed the Arizona Room Restaurant buffet lunch in the Student Union Center. A perfect end to a perfect day trip.