Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Excuse Me While I Take a Moment to Rant

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 3:14 AM

Maybe it's the closure of the Flandrau Planetarium that's put me in a bit of a foul mood. I didn't even know how to categorize this blog entry ... Do This! ... Big Bitch! ... Complaint Central?

Every weekend, my family and I look through the newspaper listings to find cool things to do. We do have strict criteria: cheap or free.

With that mantra I recently stumbled on Tucson On The Cheap. The women who write the blog run down deals and freebies happening around town.

OK, now the Big Bitch.

It's my hunt for the free and cheap that made me question the Reid Park Zoo's reprisal of MonZoon Movie Magic. It happens every Friday evening through June. You bring your own blanket or lawn chair, sit out in a grassy field and watch an old family movie. Cost is $9.50 for adults and $8.50 for children—and that is crazy. That is too much for an outdoor movie venue, even if its all about watching The Lion King or Madagascar 2 at a zoo.

I'd rather spend admission to the Desert Museum at $9.50 per adult and $2.25 per kid for their Summer Saturday Evenings. This admission price is after 4 p.m., and each night, there is a theme. Bug Night and Family Astronomy Night are popular in our house. Bring a mini-black light to find the scorpions on the benches and stucco walls where they come out at night to feast on bugs.

OK, less gushing and more bitching.

The Flandrau Planetarium is closed. This is criminal. This is the first place I visited as a kid that made me realize science, especially astronomy, is cool. They didn't have to do that with millions of dollars, but with good 'ol Hector the Vector - now deemed too old, although he still did a pretty nice Desert Sky show just last month. The only thing you can do now at the Flandrau is visit the observatory. Or you can hire someone to come out and do a star party or star show with it’s mobile planetarium.

I loved the planetarium, even with the old projector and the hand-full of proto-type exhibits that sometimes worked. It was affordable, and something accessible to most Tucson families. By the way the Flandrau’s Web site could really use an update, and we need a funeral for Hector. The $48 per person programs at the UA's Mt. Lemmon Sky Center do not ease the pain. The Biosphere 2 Center's $20 adult admission and $13 for kids doesn't help much either (although they may have caught on by running a coupon in a few local papers).

There must be someone out there who told the administration that it would be best to keep the planetarium open and make sure science and the UA remain accessible ... they just didn't listen.

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