Mann Center, Franklin Institute Gives Students Closer Look At The Stars

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Music and astronomy created an out-of-this-world experience for hundreds of young Philadelphia students at the Franklin Institute’s Fels Planetarium.

The music was synced with visuals as elementary aged students cast their wide-eyes toward the dome. Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts helped them understand the beauty and complexity of our universe, by explaining what they were watching.

He says orbiters or landers have visited every major planet, the Moon has had human visitors and, within 20 years, people will visit Mars.

‘Who knows, it could even be the person sitting right next to you,’ Pitts told the students.

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts’s Nolan Williams asked the youngsters about a pioneering NASA astronaut, 75-year-old Guion Bluford, who also sat in the Planetarium when he was their age.

The students gave various answers:

“He was an astronaut.”
“He lived in Philadelphia.”
“He was a mechanical engineer.”
“He was the first black astronaut.”

“He was the first African-American to go into outer space,” Bluford explained.

Seventeen-to-twenty-year-old musicians in the Clef Club Ambassadors Big Band performed standards by the likes of Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

The program was part of the Mann’s community festival New Frontiers: “Launch, Explore, Discover.”

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