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TJC science center offers holiday hours, dome shows

The holiday season has arrived at the Tyler Junior College Center for Earth and Space Science featuring Hudnall Planetarium.

Center hours are 9:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturdays. During the holiday break from Dec. 19 to Jan. 2, the center will be open on Mondays. The center will only be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Dome shows with a holiday theme will be presented through Jan. 2, including:

• “Let It Snow” (11 a.m. Saturdays only, Dec. 1-18; special evening showing 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19; and 11 a.m. daily, Dec. 19-Jan. 2) — This 30-minute show features a new variety of festive music classics visually enhanced with animation, laser imagery, special effects, and all-dome scenery.

• “Mystery of the Christmas Star” (12:15 p.m.) — Journey back more than 2000 years to Bethlehem for scientific explanation for the star the wise men followed to find the baby Jesus.

• “Season of Light” (1:30 p.m.) — This show recounts the historical religious and cultural rituals practiced during the time of winter solstice – not only Christian and Jewish, but also Celtic, Nordic, Roman, Irish, Mexican and Hopi. It also takes a look at a few of the more light-hearted seasonal traditions: from gift giving and kissing under the mistletoe to the custom of decking the halls with greenery and candles. Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, and Santa Claus all drop by as well.

• “Extreme Auroras” (2:45 p.m.) — Created by award-winning photographer Ole Salomonsen, “Extreme Auroras” is a visual feast. Join Salomonsen as he journeys through northern Norway, Finland and Sweden in pursuit of his passion to film nature’s wildest and most spectacular light show: the aurora borealis, or northern lights. Filmed with fisheye lenses that capture the whole sky and then projected in the full-dome theater, you will feel as if you are immersed in the arctic wilderness, witnessing this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. 

• “Drifting North: Into the Polar Night” (4 p.m.) — Step out onto an ice floe in the middle of the Arctic Ocean as scientists race the fading light to set up one of the most ambitious international climate collaborations ever. The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) was launched in September 2019, to better understand the remote region and the role it plays in global climate and weather patterns.

Admission is $3 per person, and advance online reservations are required. All guests ages 10 and up are required to wear face coverings inside the building, and guests are advised to review the guidelines on the website before their visit. The dome theater is thoroughly cleaned between each showing.

On Tuesdays through Fridays, guests can reserve a private screening in the planetarium during the 9:45 a.m. timeslot. For a $25 flat fee, up to 15 visitors can enjoy a private viewing of any one of the shows from the center’s existing library.

The science center is located at 1411 E. Lake St., on the TJC main campus. Parking is free.

To purchase advance tickets and review the health and safety guidelines, go to sciencecenter.tjc.edu.

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