This is exactly what Thomas Webber, Program Director of the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium at MOSH, has been asked to do. He was recently named a Solar System Ambassador by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
The Solar System Ambassador program is a public outreach and informal education endeavor managed by JPL, NASA’s center for the robotic exploration of the solar system. The goal of the program is to educate and inform the public about new discoveries and the future of space exploration.
There are currently Solar System Ambassadors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Netherlands. The program began in 1997 with a focus on the Galileo Mission to Jupiter. In 2000, the program expanded to cover the entire Solar System.
“I am excited about this opportunity,” Webber said. “This will give the museum new educational resources that will help fulfill its mission while helping NASA communicate the exciting discoveries that result from space exploration missions.”
Webber came to MOSH in October 2010 from Marryville, Tennessee where he was the Director of the Heritage Planetarium.
The Bryan-Gooding Planetarium opened in November 2010. It features a state-of-the-art Konica Minolta Super MediaGlobe II, a single lens, digital planetarium that is one of two in the country. The Alexander Brest Space Theater, in which the planetarium is housed, underwent a complete renovation which included cleaning and painting the 60-foot dome and installing new lighting, carpeting, chairs and wall coverings. Other technology upgrades included a 5.1 digital surround sound system and a SkyLase laser system. The Bryan-Gooding Planetarium serves public audiences and school groups.
The Museum of Science & History (MOSH) is located at 1025 Museum Circle near Friendship Park. MOSH, first chartered in 1941, inspires the joy of lifelong learning by bringing to life the sciences and regional history. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for active and retired military, $8 for children ages 3 through 12. There is no admission fee for children 2 and under or museum members. Admission is $5 on Fridays.
Museum funding provided in part by the City of Jacksonville and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, Inc.; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts; Historic Museums Grants-in-Aid Program assistance provided by the Bureau of Historical Museums, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, Secretary of State.