Astronomy Gallery

Astronomy LobbyThis exhibit features several displays. The Astronomy Gallery includes ViewSpace, an internet-fed, self-updating, permanent exhibit from the Space Telescope Science Institute, home of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope. Rocks from Space highlights meteorites collected from around the world. Most are part of the Institute’s vast mineral collection while some of the displayed meteorites are on loan from the Smithsonian and the Vatican Observatory. They range in weight from just a few ounces to more than 200 pounds, and are the shattered remains of asteroid collisions, planetary impacts and primordial debris left over from the formation of the solar system. The exhibit presents samples of many types of meteorites, along with colorful graphics, images and text that tell their amazing story, including a rare specimen believed to have originated from the surface of Mars.

Accompanying the meteorite display is an exhibit devoted to Tools of Astronomy, including sundials, astrolabes and solar system models taken from the Institute’s collection. Many of these artifacts are works of art that illustrate the excellent craftsmanship of past centuries required to produce tools that could accurately observe and measure changes in the sky and predict their future recurrence.

The Astronomy Lobby also includes a mechanical model of our solar system known as a copernican orrery. It is one of three commissioned copies of an original design built by M. Sendtner for the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany. The orrery depicts the moons and planets that were known to exist when the original was constructed in 1911. The Institute's version was built in the 1930's and officially accessioned into its collection in 1937.