Planetarium show shoots for stars with 'Astronaut'

Matthew Lane • Apr 14, 2013 at 1:43 AM

KINGSPORT — Bays Mountain Park is shooting for the stars this summer with a new planetarium show about the work and effort required to become an astronaut.

“Astronaut,” narrated by famed actor Ewan McGregor, is a full-dome presentation that takes the viewer deeper into the journey of becoming an astronaut and the rigors one must endure in the name of space science.

Experience a rocket launch from inside the human body, and witness in amazing detail the physical impact a variety of space activities have on the body.

The show began last week and runs through the end of July.

Adam Thanz, planetarium director at Bays Mountain Park, said the park has received numerous positive comments about the 45-minute program, noting that last week’s viewings for local schools, all of the 4 p.m. shows were sold out.

“It’s a richly animated show; a very entertaining and informative show for the entire family,” Thanz said. “It brings a tour of the night sky, the space programs, where it’s been and where it’s going and we have fun activities that illustrate the different ways we’ve gone into space.”

Produced by NSC Creative, “Astronaut” opened to a sold out audience and is part of a triple-feature from Bays Mountain, that includes a live presentation highlighting the current night sky, pointing out constellations and planets that are easily visible.

The third and final feature is a short presentation on space exploration of the past and where we are going.

“The primary is the show and then we do some other fun activities, such as looking into the different types of rockets used in the space program,” Thanz said.

“Astronaut” can be seen Tuesday through Friday at 4 p.m., and on the weekends at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $4 per person and can be purchased at the gift shop located in the Nature Center.

Thanz said while the summer show was not produced in-house, the next program beginning in August will be, called “Comets and Discovery,” which is nearing the end of the production process.

Annually, more than 150,000 visitors pass through Bays Mountain Park, making it one of the state of Tennessee’s Top 50 Most Visited Attractions, according to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

One of the nation’s largest city-owned parks with 3,550 acres, Bays Mountain Park features 40 miles of hiking trails, a state-of-the-art planetarium, wildlife habitats, fun exhibits, a 44-acre lake, ropes course with zip line, trails for mountain biking and much, much more.

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