May 27, 2015

Space museum! (a.k.a The American Museum of Natural History)

If it wasn't obvious by the fact that I blog about Doctor Who, I'm kind of a science geek. I'm a big fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I've been wanting to go to his space museum for a long time. Here's where I say that it's not really called the space museum, and I confused my boyfriend for some time by referring to it this way. It's really called The American Museum of Natural History. The space museum part, of which Dr. Tyson is the head, is The Rose Center for Earth and Space, just part of the museum.

Since Dave is big into astronomy, too, he was also excited about a trip to New York to see the space museum. While the planetarium show, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, was great, my favorite part was the Scales of the Universe. In the center is a giant sphere, called the Hayden Sphere, and there are various other items, like planets or molecules or galaxies, around the walkway or hanging near it. The signs along the walkway say, for instance, if the Hayden Sphere was the sun, then the planets were to scale. The outer planets were hanging near the sphere, while the inner planets were on the walkway itself. We walked around from largest to smallest, so we went from the universe and superclusters of galaxies to viruses and atoms and quarks, with the sphere representing different things (e.g., if the sphere was the Virgo Supercluster, then the object on the walkway was the Local Group, a group of galaxies that contains the Milky Way- for context, there are millions of superclusters in the observable universe). It was really very cool to have the universe put into perspective like this. I had no idea just how small our sun is compared to some other stars or how much bigger the Oort Cloud is than the Kuiper Belt. It's hard to get my mind around the vast scale of the universe, and this demonstrated it very well. Dave agreed.

Guess what? The space museum has way more cool stuff than just space. In fact, I didn't realize just how much neat stuff was there until I downloaded the museum's app. I don't think most people who know me know this, but I'm fascinated by whales. I love them. I'm dying to see some in person. What does the AMNH have? A giant, life-size model of a blue whale.

This is friggin' huge.
The blue whale is huge. This photo in no way does it justice. I was not prepared for just how big this thing is, and I was aware that it's the largest animal on Earth. Enough about the blue whale. One of the things I wanted to see was Lucy. I'm also fascinated by human evolution, and I've seen countless tv shows featuring Lucy, the Australopithecus. And here she was!

Okay, no one but me is interested in Lucy, so we'll move a giant head.

This is a moai from Easter Island. At the time I thought this was a real one, but I have since learned it was a cast. It was still cool. And now for Dave's favorite part, the dinosaurs.

If I said that Dave knows a lot about dinosaurs, that would be a ridiculous understatement. Dave knows everything about dinosaurs. Dave should have been a paleontologist. Dave could spot a skeleton of a dinosaur I've never heard of from fifty feet away and tell me the name of it. And he did. Repeatedly. And it's not like I don't know my dinos. I know Triceratops from Stegosaurus.

This would be Stegosaurus.

But Dave knows them all. Anyway, this section of the museum was great. The immensity of these creatures is amazing. I couldn't even fit this one in the photo.

Giant body, tiny head, evil glowing eye

I can only imagine what it would be like to encounter a live one. If it were a carnivore, I'd be a goner. The dinos were the last things we saw, although we did stop by the Hayden Sphere for one last look on the way out.

Sitting by the dinos before we head out

In the morning, we walked from the bus station to the museum through Central Park, and we took the reverse path on the way back.

It was a fun adventure. We were at the museum for almost the entire time it was open for the day, and the time flew by. It's a cool place. I liked it a lot.

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