Morrison Planetarium web page:



Morrison Planetarium's current main feature is "The Sands of Mars," offered daily. "Great Shakes!," "Startalk," and "Neighbors in Space" are offered on weekends. "Great Shakes!" ends on June 14th, and the new main feature, "Journey to the Center of the Universe," begins on June 29th. This show will incorporate recent new images of the center of Centaurus-A and of the possible planet TMR-1C, as photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Morrison Planetarium celebrated Astronomy Day on May 2nd with activities presented by Planetarium staff, the Palomares 4-H and a cross-country Internet chat with astronomers in South Dakota and Toronto. A big hit was a miniture Mars landscape and a radio-controlled toy Sojourner that kids could operate. Astronomy Day activities were co-ordinated by Kirsten Vanstone.

The final lecture in the Benjamin Dean spring "planetary" series featured Dr. Geoffrey Briggs talking about the future exploration and possible colonization of Mars. A special summer series will feature storytelling and sky-myths, and the fall series will have a theme of cosmology and the formation of the Universe. The Benjamin Dean lecture series is co-ordinated by Tinka Ross.

The Planetarium staff were consulted by the media for statements about impacting asteroids and TMR-1C.

Submitted by Bing Quock, Morrison Planetarium


The Morrison Planetarium's Spring show, "The Sands of Mars," opened on March 13th, featuring images from the Mars Global Surveyor, an all-sky image of the Mars Pathfinder landing site, and the flaming ruins of San Francisco following a Martian invasion ;) . The show will run until September 13th. "Great Shakes!," about earthquakes, planetquakes, & starquakes, was finally joined by the exhibit it was designed to coincide with. The California Academy of Sciences' newest permanent "Earthquake!" exhibit includes interactive displays, earthquake preparedness materials, and a multimedia theater simulation of San Francisco's 1906 and 1989 earthquakes. With the reorganization and moving of many Earth science materials from the Planetarium's are into the new "Earthquake!" exhibit, extra space has been created for the addition of new astronomy displays. This space is at present being temporarily filled by a collection of photographs of Earth taken from orbit, to be followed by astronomical artwork.

The February Dean Lecture featured Dr. Steve Saunders from JPL, talking about Venus. In March, Dr. Claudia Alexander, also from JPL, recapped the Galileo mission, and in April, JPL's Stephen Edberg talked about the Cassini mission. The final lecture in the Spring series will feature Dr. Geoffrey Briggs from Ames Research Center, talking about Mars. A special summer-long supplement to the series will feature storytellers recounting traditional and original tales about the Moon and the stars.

Planetarium staff were contacted by the media to comment on various astronomical events, including the discovery of lunar ice, the flawed prediction of an asteroid impact, and a bright fireball that was seen throughout Northern California.

Preparations are underway for Astronomy Day on May 2nd. Morrison's plans include safe solar observing by members of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers, demonstrations by the Palomares 4-H Club, a display of some of the Academy's meteorites, and an internet chat with astronomers in the U.S. and Canada.

- Submitted by Bing Quock, Assistant Chairman

8/97Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 11:59:08 -0400
From: "Bing F. Quock"
Subject: AANC Morrison Planetarium report (July-Aug '97)
The big summer draw for Morrison Planetarium was the continuing coverage of Mars Pathfinder/Sagan Station and the Sojourner microrover. for about two weeks, a computer station was set up in the astronomy exhibit hall so that visitors could view images from the surface of Mars downloaded from the Internet, and volunteers helped explain the goings-on. This activity was organized by Kirsten Vanstone and was covered on local radio and television news reports.

Some Pathfinder images have been incorporated into the current main feature "A Tour of the Universe," and others including the "Presidential Panorama" will be used in the September show, "Great Shakes!". That show, currently in production, will be about earthquakes, Moonquakes, Marsquakes, and starquakes, and will coincide with the opening of a new permanent earthquake exhibit at the Academy of Sciences.

Our request for photos of Comet Hale-Bopp from astrophotographers has produced some beautiful images, including images from Robert Hoyle and Dan Warner, a drawing of the nuclear hoods from Joe Burgeron, and Nathan Chan's striking shot of the comet and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The August 19th Benjamin Dean Lecture will feature Dr. Neil Tyson of New York's Hayden Planetarium, speaking at 7:30 p.m. on designing the planetarium of the 21st century. The Hayden, one of the country's premiere star theaters, is currently closed for major renovation which will include the installation of new, state-of-the-art projection technologies, and will reopen in 2000. The Fall/Winter Dean series, which starts in September, will have a theme of stellar evolution, featuring research astronomers from several West Coast universities. This series is co-ordinated by Tinka Ross.

Morrison Planetarium's web pages are currently being redesigned. Web surfers can keep tabs on the progress at

The media contacted the Planetarium for explanations of a number of celestial events including the occultation of Aldebaran and the Perseid meteor shower.

Submitted by Bing Quock


DATE: 6/11/97 8:12 AM Morrison Planetarium Report for June

Morrison Planetarium opens a new daily feature, "A Tour of the Universe," the weekend of June 21-22. Running through November 30th, the show features recent Hubble & Galileo images, including an impressive all-dome image of the Hubble Deep Field. During the course of the show, images from Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner will be added when available.

"Tales of a Comet" continues through September 7th, summarizing comets in general and Hale-Bopp in particular, with showings on weekends only until July 2nd and shows daily thereafter through Labor Day. Any amateur astronomers who would like to have their Hale-Bopp photos considered for inclusion in the show are most welcome to contact Bing Quock (ASAP) at (415)750-7131 or at BQUOCK@CALACADEMY.ORG. Slides (preferred) can be mailed directly to Bing Quock, Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118. Image providers will be credited.

A special event is being planned for Sojourner's landing on Mars on July 4th, possibly consisting of touchdown (or "bounce-down," as the case may be) coverage and PlanetFest coverage from JPL, both on NASA-TV. Some hands-on astronomy and Mars-related activities may also be set up in the exhibit hall.

The Dean Lecture series featured Torrance Johnson from JPL, speaking about the Galileo mission. The June 24th lecture will feature Dr. Amy Spaulding, who will present a number of sky-myths from different cultures. There will be no Dean Lecture in July, but Neil Tyson, director of the under-renovation Hayden Planetarium in New York, will speak in August.

Submitted by Bing Quock


Date: Sat, 19 Apr 1997 02:35:39 -0400

From: "Bing F. Quock"
Subject: Morrison Planetarium Report for AANC To: Alan Gould
Cc: Steve Craig , Kirsten Vanstone

Morrison Planetarium welcomes Kirsten Vanstone to its full-time staff as Astronomy Assistant. A native of Toronto, Ontario, she held a science educator position at the Ontario Science Centre and founded the Toronto Sidewalk Astronomers. Her first official responsibility at Morrison was to organize April 12th Astronomy Day activities at the California Academy of Sciences, and with her strong background in amateur astronomy, she will be handling much of the liaison between Morrison and local amateur groups.

On clear weekday evenings in April, Morrison Planetarium staff conducted Hale-Bopp observations from the front steps of the Academy of Sciences - far from an ideal viewing site, with the bright lights in the Music Concourse (which provided an excellent springboard from which to launch into discussions of light pollution), but nonetheless much-appreciated by passersby and Academy visitors. On several nights, SFAA members also set up telescopes at the Academy. Comet-watchers were also directed to fellow AANC member-sites Lawrence Hall of Science and Chabot Science Center, and were referred to the SFAA & SF Sidewalk Astronomers, as well.

Current public presentations at the Planetarium include "Tales of a Comet" (about comets, written by Norm Sperling), and "Other Worlds" (written by Bing Quock, about new solar systems - including those discovered by local astronomers Geoff Marcy & Paul Butler), along with the ongoing "Startalk" basic night sky show and the family show "Neighbors in Space."

The April 22nd Benjamin Dean Lecture featured Dr. Eleanor Helin of JPL on the search for Near-Earth Objects. The May 13th talk will be by Torrance Johnson, also of JPL, on the Galileo spacecraft's spectacular views of Jupiter's largest moons. This popular series was organized by Tinka Ross. Two previously-unannounced lectures have been added, featuring storyteller Dr. Amy Spaulding in June and the Hayden Planetarium's director, Dr. Neil Tyson, in August.

As part of its Special Lecture series, the California Academy of Sciences presented on April 24th a talk by Timothy Ferris, who signed copies of his whimsically-titled new book, "The Whole Shebang."

- Submitted by Bing Quock
Kirsten Vanstone