The Buffalo Museum of Science is moving forward with a large-scale makeover of its observatory and space exhibit, planning to have the latter ready for a highly-anticipated solar eclipse that will be viewable in the United States.
The long-running Our Place In Space exhibit, located on the fourth floor of the museum, closed several months ago to undergo a full remodeling. It will be replaced by a presentation known as Buffalo In Space.
"One of the messages we're really going to convey in Buffalo In Space is outer space is not out there, it's right here," said Marisa Wigglesworth, president and CEO of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. "We're a part of it and it's all around us."
The new exhibit is scheduled to open Monday, August 21, coinciding with a highly-anticipated solar eclipse. Americans living within a path that starts in Oregon and swings southeast to South Carolina will have the opportunity to enjoy a total eclipse. People in Buffalo, meanwhile, will have the opportunity to observe a partial eclipse. About 72 percent of the Sun will be obscured by the Moon, as the latter moves in a path between the Sun and Earth.
"Of course, safe viewing is critical," Wigglesworth said. "You don't want to look up directly at the Sun but if you come on out to the Buffalo Museum of Science, we'll give you a pair of viewing glasses."
Viewing the eclipse, of course, depends on the weather.
The museum's other ambitious project, full restoration of the Kellogg Observatory, is moving forward. The old green-tinted dome, colored such by years of oxidation, is being replaced by a stainless steel dome that is expected to be constructed in August. Months later, the museum's vintage Lundin refractor telescope will be returned. That was carefully removed last December and taken to Pennsylvania where it is being restored.
"Restoration is going really well," Wigglesworth said. "We've engaged this marvelous engineer, Dr. Fred Orthlieb, and he is well on his way in restoring the telescope. It's really almost back to its pristine, original condition. It will stay in his safekeeping until we're ready to crane it back into that new dome."
The observatory is expected to reopen in early 2018.