Exploring the Universe

photo of the sun from NASA
On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second. The CME did not travel directly toward Earth, but did connect with Earth’s magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, causing aurora to appear on the night of Monday, September 3. Picuted here is a lighten blended version of the 304 and 171 angstrom wavelengths. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

Are we alone?

Recent blockbuster movies including “Interstellar,” “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” show off a vast array of imaginary planets.

Audiences are fascinated by the unusual landscapes, strange weather and fantastic alien life. What would it be like to see two suns in the sky?  What sort of animals would live on a water planet, or a gas giant?  If our Earth can no longer support us, will the human race one day travel to other worlds?  For all of human history, people have been mesmerized by the stars and wondered what else might be out there in our universe.  Are we alone?  Should we be worried?

Southeast Texas, with its connection to NASA, has played a pivotal role in space exploration. The often mis-quoted phrase “Houston, we have a problem” associated with the movie about the real space mission Apollo 13 has become a cliché, used to indicate any sort of problem at all, often humorously.

“Exploring the Universe,” a special exhibit at Museum of the Gulf Coast, is on loan from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, will showcase the technology we use to observe distant reaches of space, and the methods we are currently developing that may one day let us travel outside our own solar system. Science-fiction fans and scientists alike will enjoy trying to separate fact from fantasy in “Science or Science-Fiction,” a special section focused on thought-provoking theories and spectacular recent discoveries.

The exhibit will be up through Aug. 27 at the Museum.

Exhibitions at the Museum of the Gulf Coast are brought to you by the city of Port Arthur, Lamar State College – Port Arthur and the Southeast Texas Arts Council.  “Exploring the Universe” is made possible by NASA: Johnson Space Center. Special group rates and tours are available.  For more information, contact the Museum at 409-982-7000 or email bellianse@lamarpa.edu

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