Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Astronaut Roger Crouch Discusses Hubble 3D

We would like to say thanks again to retired astronaut Roger Crouch for helping launch Hubble 3D at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater. Roger is grew up in Jamestown, TN and also lived in Polk County, TN while in high school. Roger shared his inspirational story with Chattanooga State students, faculty and friends at the IMAX 3D Theater. He also spoke to two school groups at UTC's Challenger Center.

The Challenger Center in Chattanooga has a 1/5th scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope which helped Roger give this group of students from the Bright School a better understanding of this awesome scientific tool.
After a fantastic presentation about Roger's two missions aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, these students took a virtual tour of the cosmos at the IMAX 3D Theater while watching Hubble 3D.

Roger is shown below answering questions from future scientists at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater.

Listen to WUTC-FM's Mike Miller interviewing Roger on "Around and About."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Romance Returns to Penguins' Rock

A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes at Penguins' Rock recently. First, all of the gentoo and macaroni penguins were given complete physical examinations by Aquarium vet Dr. Chris Keller. While this was going on, the pool was drained and the entire exhibit was cleaned from top to bottom. Keepers like to start off a new breeding season with a spotless exhibit. Cleaning chores become a bit more challenging while the penguins are nesting. Every effort is made not to disturb the birds while they are on the nest. On April 1st, the penguins will receive the rocks necessary to build nests. This will trigger what Amy Graves calls, "a beehive of penguin nest building and courtship behavior."
Senior aviculturist Amy Graves with the "magic rocks" the Tennessee Aquarium penguins will use to build nests. The rocks are sorted to make sure they are too large to swallow, but not too heavy for the gentoo and macaroni penguins to carry with their beaks. Plenty of work goes into cleaning the exhibit and rocks before breeding season begins.

Graves says Hercules is a dashing penguin in the eyes of the female macaronis. Keepers, volunteers and visitors will watch with interest to see which birds pair up after the nesting rocks are placed in the exhibit.
Left to right: Pepper, Chaos and Paulie seem determined to claim their former nesting site. After raising Pepper last year, Chaos and Paulie have developed a strong pair bond. Graves and others would be very surprised if these two mates are not together again. Pepper will probably play with rocks this season. It will be interesting to see what she'll do if there is a sibling this year.
For more information go to the Tennessee Aquarium's newsroom:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Butterfly Bonanza

Horticulture volunteer Allan Parris captured some great images inside the Tennessee Aquarium's Butterfly Garden. With hundreds of colorful butterflies flying inside the exhibit, occasionally one will stop to land on a visitor. It's almost as if they are saying, "Nice to meet you." According to Dave Collins, the Aquarium's curator of forests, this is part of the fun of a relaxing, slow-paced visit. "If you move quietly, a butterfly or two might land on you," said Collins. "But we would ask visitors not to touch the wings of the butterflies."
Entomologist Jennifer Taylor releases butterflies into the garden twice daily. "Sometimes I'll gently place a butterfly or two onto a visitor during releases," said Taylor. "But we prefer that guests refrain from catching or grabbing the butterflies on their own. Their legs and wings are very delicate." So enjoy a friendly visit if one lands on you, but don't grab them off of food sources or restrain them in any way. And make sure you don't have a hitch-hiker on your back before you exit the garden area.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break Aboard the Explorer

Tennessee Aquarium naturalist John Dever took a few minutes out of his day to snap a few spring break images from aboard the River Gorge Explorer. The weather has been a bit topsy-turvy lately, producing some nice scenes in the Gorge. John said more than one rainbow was seen yesterday after a brief downpour. In the opposite direction, the setting sun made for a picture perfect snapshot. And some spring breakers celebrated the first day of spring sporting fancy faces. Clearly the smiles indicate how much fun they were having.

By the way, John reports seeing the ospreys around Williams Island once again. Hopefully we'll see them nesting in the Gorge again this season. It has really been thrilling to see them raising a family on the river the past two summers.

Plenty of time for a spring getaway to Chattanooga. Round two of the Aquarium's "Keeper Kids" spring break activities coming up April 3 through 11:

Astronaut Roger Crouch will be visiting Chattanooga the next two days to help with the launch of Hubble 3D at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater.

Crouch was aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia for two flights into space. While in Chattanooga, he'll introduce the film for a group of students from Chattanooga State and give two educational programs to school groups at UTC's Challenger Center.
Roger inspires students to reach for the stars, urging them to set goals, work hard and never give up on their dreams.
Inspirational is what many people are calling Hubble 3D.

Check here for showtimes and ticket information:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Break Visit Inspires Creativity

Lots of families are enjoying our Spring Break Keeper Kids activities right now.
In fact, a real smile-maker came in today. Apparently a recent Spring Break visit inspired one young lady to write a poem about the Tennessee Aquarium's otters. Enjoy!
Otter! Otter! by Katie, age 10, Rome, Georgia
Otter! Otter! Swimming deep.
Your otter brother is asleep.
You're not afraid to flip.
You're always willing to take a dip.
All around the clock, you never, ever stop.
You always make people smile.
You wouldn't back down from swimming a mile.
When people look at you,
You always feel like there's more to do.
When there's no more fun,
You know the day is done.
I love to watch you play.
I'll come again another day.
Thanks Katie! Here's some video of our playful otters:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hubble 3D is a "MUST SEE" at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater

"Blown away," was just one starry-eyed description of Hubble 3D from a guest who saw a preview of the film last evening. Many others were equally enthusiastic about every aspect of this film. In fact, virtually every person in the audience said things like, "I'll be back to see this one again," to "I'm telling everyone I know about this movie. It was beautiful."

This film grabs you from the moment it begins, leading you through the background of this amazing scientific instrument and out into the farthest reaches of the known universe through amazing 3D fly throughs of Hubble imagery. Along the way, you go behind the scenes at NASA to meet the astronauts and understand the risks and challenges of maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope.
Anyone who has looked up at the night sky on a summer's evening can probably point out the Big Dipper, Little Dipper and Orion. Many nights I've stared at Orion's belt, pondering what's out there. Last night, I was able to travel there as the film hurtled the audience across the cosmos to visit the birthplace of stars. The 3D on the giant, six-story screen was truly amazing. Here is a bit of information about the nebula and image seen above.

The sharpest view of the Orion Nebula captured by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. The new IMAX® 3D film Hubble 3D features a never-before-seen 3D animated fly through of Orion that shows details of stars and proplyds visible only with the advanced instruments of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Courtesy of NASA.

It was also fun to see the underwater scenes which were captured by Howard Hall. (Howard and Michele were recently in Chattanooga for "Under the Sea 3D.)
April 2009 – Underwater Cinematographer Howard Hall moves the IMAX® 3D camera in its
waterproof housing to film STS-125 astronauts Michael (left) and Michael Good (right) as they rehearse Hubble Space Telescope repairs in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. STS-125 astronauts operated an IMAX 3D camera on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis to capture the final Hubble Space Telescope repair mission. Courtesy of NASA.
The liftoff scenes were outstanding, light-hearted moments with the astronauts will make you smile and you'll hold your breath during some of the space walking scenes. And when the experience draws to a conclusion, you will be filled with a sense of wonder and a deeper appreciation for the amazing things "out there" as well as right here - on Earth.
You'll tell your friends, "Don't miss this film." Unless they tell you first.
More information including showtimes here:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another batch of pups at the Tennessee Aquarium

Five black ray pups were found in the Freshwater Ray exhibit in Ocean Journey this week, four on Monday (3/8) and one on Tuesday (3/9). This is the third litter of black rays we have had, presumably all from the same female. The litter size has increased by one each time this species has bred, and can reach larger numbers as they get older. The Tennessee Aquarium is one of only a few institutions breeding this species right now. The pups will likely be shipped to another institution. Exchanging with other aquariums is important, since export of this species from South America is heavily regulated, with only a few specimens allowed to leave each year.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Aquarium Offers FREE Trees for Arbor Day

(Left to right) Docent volunteer Sibyl Gore, horticulture volunteer Antoinette Pereira and Aquarium lead horticulturist Christine Bock hold some of the bare root seedlings that will soon flourish in the Tennessee Valley.
Chattanooga's Arbor Day is Friday, March 5th. The Tennessee Aquarium and the Lookout Mountain Conservancy encourage everyone to plant a native tree this year. To promote native tree planting, tulip poplar and water Tupelo trees will be available free of charge, at the Tennessee Aquarium Friday, March 5th and Saturday, March 6th while supplies last. Seven-hundred trees will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 10 am Friday morning in the Aquarium’s River Journey building at the gift shop exit.

According to Christine Bock, the Tennessee Aquarium’s lead horticulturist, the tulip poplar is one of the tallest shade trees in North America. “Tulip poplars are extremely fast growing trees,” Bock said. “Their seeds stay on through the winter months which helps attract birds.” The tulip poplar, also known as yellow poplar, is the Tennessee State tree.

Water Tupelo trees are sometimes called Tupelo gum trees. “These large, long-lived trees are typically found in or near water, but will adapt to low areas in many yards,” Bock said. The water Tupelo produces berries which help attract wildlife. “The leaves turn a deep reddish-orange in the fall, which is absolutely gorgeous,” Bock said.

These bare-root seedlings come with a care sheet to help people get their trees off to a great start.