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Florida Guide > Places to Visit

The Bishop Planetarium

We had taken up a suggestion from an American couple we had met a week or so earlier to visit their hometown of Bradenton which is situated on the Gulf of Mexico just south of the city of Tampa.

Out intention had been to head for the beaches and the sugar white sands of Anna Maria Island but we had found plenty to do and see in the downtown area, that time was flying by and we were already well into the afternoon.

The problem now was the blistering heat and we were in desperate need of an air conditioned sanctuary for an hour or so, to try and get our energy levels back to something like normal.

Our wish was granted when we came across the Bishops Planetarium which is housed on the left side of a modern building which is also home to the South Florida Museum and the Parker Manatee Aquarium. We could only look on in envy at such a wonderful resource centre that has been made available to the city’s residents but as visitors from ‘across the pond’ we were made especially welcome.

Living in south Cheshire we have the space observatory at Jodrell Bank on our doorstep and throughout our time in that part of the world we had visited a few times and taken an active interest in space technology. Now here was a lovely air conditioned planetarium with a domed theatre beckoning us in.

For technophobes, from what I can remember, the theatre boasts one of the most advanced digital projection systems in the world and incorporates high definition TV and DVD projection techniques.

During our visit we managed to catch a couple of shows. The first entitled Infinity Express was a twenty minute full domed encounter that transported the audience on a voyage of discovery through the solar system whilst chronicling the major breakthroughs in space exploration.

The second show, called The Secret of the Cardboard Rocket, was more suited to the younger audience but we enjoyed it all the same. Basically the story involves two children who spend the night exploring the solar system in their cardboard rocket alongside the ship’s navigator in the form of a talking astronomy book.

Shows such as Black Holes and Extreme Planets were also on the schedule but, suitably refreshed, it was time for us to return outdoors and brave the hot afternoon sun and head off to the beach.

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Page added on: 3 January 2010
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