The main attraction at the not-yet-open National Museum of Surveying in downtown Springfield, a high-tech video system called “Science on a Sphere,” is up and running. At the heart of “Sphere” is a large plastic globe representing the earth that is suspended a few feet off the floor by wires. On it, four high-speed cameras project images of the atmosphere, oceans and landmasses.
The main attraction at the not-yet-open National Museum of Surveying in downtown Springfield, a high-tech video system called “Science on a Sphere,” is up and running.
At the heart of “Sphere” is a large plastic globe representing the earth that is suspended a few feet off the floor by wires. On it, four high-speed cameras project images of the atmosphere, oceans and landmasses. The sphere doesn’t move, but the cameras can create the illusion that it is rotating on its axis.
“It’s even better than I thought,” Bob Church, treasurer of the museum, said after the equipment had been installed last week. “I’ve only seen it on the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Web site. Seeing it live, it’s just amazing what technology can do.”
“Science on a Sphere” comes with 230 data sets that display a wide range of pictures. Some show what the earth looks like from outer space, while others show global weather patterns.
An operator using a hand-held remote control can display the predominating ocean currents, or even replay the 2005 hurricane season, which spawned Katrina.
“For little kids, they have a data set that tracks turtles as they migrate. It’s really interesting,” said John Weck, the museum’s director.
The system, which will cost about $200,000 to buy, install and maintain during the next few years, also can transform the globe to represent the moon.
Last week, a few members of the media and some local officials got a preview of “Science on a Sphere.” The public will have to wait until Feb. 12, when the museum is scheduled to have a public preview in conjunction with other local events celebrating the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.
The museum will then close as work on the space and displays is completed, before formally opening in May. In between February and May, tours will be available by appointment. People can call the museum at (217) 523-3130 to schedule a tour.
Other exhibits will look at surveying’s past, including information on the three U.S. presidents who were surveyors: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln.
Exhibits will be on the first floor of the building. Upstairs will be offices for the Illinois State Historical Society and the Illinois Association of Professional Land Surveyors.
The building that houses the museum is known as the Roberts Brothers building, named for a clothing store that opened there in 1919.
The Springfield museum’s “Science on a Sphere,” designed by NOAA, is one of 29 such systems worldwide. The only other in Illinois is at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
John Reynolds can be reached at (217) 788-1524 or email@example.com.