See the stars at Scobee Education Center

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Center continues Challenger’s mission.

By J. Carbajal

Scobee Education Center, named after former student Francis R. “Dick” Scobee, has public program showings Friday evenings in the planetarium.

The various programs, which play in sequence 6:30-9 p.m., offer viewers various ways to explore the galaxy.

The programs change almost every month, work-study student Parti Rai said March 22.

Current shows include an all-ages, family-friendly show about an alien family exploring the solar system, “Perfect Little Planet,” produced by Clark Planetarium.

“The Sky Tonight Live” is a live viewing of the sky, and there is a double feature that explores Earth’s climate system and the possibility of life on planets that orbit other suns.

The shows in the double feature are “Extreme Planets,” produced by Clark Planetarium, and “Dynamic Earth,” a production of Spitz Creative Media, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio and Thomas Lucas Productions Inc.

The last three shows do not permit children under 6.

The Scanlan Observatory has a 10-inch refractor telescope and is open and free to the public 9-10 p.m. if the weather permits.

Tickets go on sale 30 minutes before the start of each program, with cash, credit or checks accepted.

Because of the nature of the programs, such as “The Sky Tonight Live,” when eyes need to be adjusted, late entry is not allowed because any light will flood in, Director Rick Varner said March 20.

The planetarium seats 101. Audience members are advised to arrive early because it is hard to predict audience size for specific nights.

The education center’s website advises guests not to purchase tickets for a group unless all members are present. If an entire group is not together, guests cannot save seats, Varner said.

The Challenger Center, formerly housed at Brooks City Base, is included in Scobee Education Center along with the planetarium.

The Challenger provides space mission simulations for students in grades 6-12. These group sessions are booked by contacting the center.

The education center was established in memory of the lives lost on the Challenger space mission.

On the 10th launch of the shuttle Challenger Jan. 28, 1986, Christa McAuliffe was going to be the first teacher in space.

NASA’s Teacher in Space project was designed to interest students in STEM, science, technology, engineering and math.

McAuliffe planned to give lectures while in space, according to NASA’s website at

Scobee was commander of the mission, which ended in tragedy 73 seconds into the launch when the shuttle exploded.

“Our goal is to carry on the crew’s educational mission, to spark youth interest and joy in science and engineering,” according to the planetarium’s website at

The center will be closed April 15 and 28 for Easter and Fiesta. The programs will run for the public on Friday evenings throughout the summer.

Alamo Colleges students and staff tickets are $2 with ID. Children’s admission prices are $4, adults $5 and seniors and military with ID $4.

Call Scobee at 210-486-0100 or email


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