Planetarium coordinator’s designs inspired by his late wife.
By Landon Penn
In addition to the Challenger Center, planetarium and observatory, Scobee Education Center features several mosaic windows designed by planetarium Coordinator Bob Kelley.
The windows range in size from a wall clock to disco ball.
Kelley said he designed the windows to add color to the main entrance and to bring art and science together.
The four windows, which feature figures related to astronomy, are spherical to represent the planets in the solar system.
Kelley said that he found inspiration to undertake the project from his late wife, Tonie Kelley. She had passed away five years ago from cancer. Kelley said they often looked at the stars together.
One window’s design depicts the winter constellation of Orion as a tribute to his wife. “Orion was her favorite constellation,” Kelley said. Another illustrates the planets Saturn and Jupiter with a comet shooting between them.
To add accuracy to the artwork, Kelley said he depicted Jupiter’s hurricane-like storm as a red mark over the planet to “add a little extra pop to the picture.”
He also designed a window showing a quarter moon and Venus shining together. Because it happens to be the smallest of the mosaic windows, he calls it the “Children’s Window.”
The final window depicts a shuttle being launched into space. Seven jewels symbolize the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, the shuttle that exploded during takeoff in 1986 off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The projects were started by Kelley 2 1/2 ago. He credits his wife for the encouragement to complete projects. “I would always hear her say, ‘I have faith in you that you’ll get it done,’” Kelley said.
Kelley estimated he spent more than 100 hours constructing the windows.
“It’s an honor to build windows for the Scobee Education Center,” Kelley said. “It’s kind of my legacy.”
The planetarium will open Friday.