My Sky is an exhibit about the universe. But it is also about each of us, and how the sky above impacts our lives here on Earth. The sky is, after all, universal. My Sky invites children and adults to explore the Sun, the Moon and the stars together in an immersive, inviting environment. Families are encouraged to "look up" not only when they visit the exhibit, but also in their everyday lives. And My Sky gives families the chance to practice science skills like observing, communicating, noticing patterns, predicting, imagining and more — science skills that are fundamental to astronomy, and skills that scientists and engineers use every day.
The sky is also a source of endless inspiration for people from all walks of life, and My Sky introduces us to a few of these people. From scientists and astronomers who work to investigate and understand the universe; to artists and sculptors who create monuments and representations of the awesome and the serene; to writers and musicians who capture, through words and melody, the feelings that arise when we gaze up at the Moon, or stare silently at the stars. The universe is inspiring. It is mind boggling. It is full of wonder. My Sky invites you to feel all of that.
The My Sky exhibit was funded by NASA and created through a partnership between Boston Children’s Museum and Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. My Sky has four primary areas of activity: a skate park, in which children explore the Sun; a child's room, where visitors investigate the Moon and the stars; a Moon Dome where families have a one-of-a-kind experience with the Moon; and a backyard that offers experiences about the Sun, the Moon and the stars together.
In the skate park you can explore the Sun as we experience it here on Earth, and as satellites see it from up in space. You and your family are invited to enter a dome where the light of the “Sun” traces a path overhead in a matter of seconds, and observe how your shadows shift and dance as a result. You can stand on a spot and create a human sundial, with your shadow arcing across the floor as the "day" progresses. And you can even speed up or slow down the movement of the Sun to enhance your observations.
Alongside the skate park is the Sun Screen: a giant interactive display revealing stunning imagery of our nearest star as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite. You can use a dial to move through a year-in-the-life movie of the Sun and watch it rotate, undulate and eject matter. You are challenged to find solar events in this movie like flares, coronal mass ejections, eclipses, solar tornados and more. And you might even see Venus and the Moon moving across the screen.
In the child's room, a child’s loft bed arches over a glow-in-the-dark wall where you are challenged to find and draw familiar constellations; and to invent your own new constellations in a recognizable patch of the night sky. The constellation lines you create glow beautifully in this specially-lit area. Junior astronomers are even invited to climb on top of the loft bed, lie down on a soft mattress, and imagine looking up at the stars.
On a nearby desk you can explore the phases of the Moon by manipulating a mechanical Moon-Earth model that, when you turn the model, shows the changing phases of the Moon both on the physical model, and out in the night sky through a window above the desk. The Moon through this window transforms before your eyes, showcasing all of the Moon’s phases and accurately reflecting the connection between these phases, and the Moon’s position in its orbit around the Earth.
The Child’s Room features a range of books about the Moon, Sun and stars alongside a comfortable couch to read them together; and this room introduces you to Wanda Diaz Merced, an amazing blind astrophysicist who analyzes data by turning numbers into music and then listening for patterns.
The backyard features a campfire, climb-in tents and a 24-hour day-in-the-life time lapse of the sky created especially for the exhibit. You are challenged to find planets, constellations, the setting and rising Sun, a rising Moon and more as you watch this movie. A nearby campfire completes the scene, and rests between two tents in which you can listen to a variety of music that was inspired by the Sun, the Moon and the stars. You may even notice a few nocturnal creatures who have taken up residence in a nearby tree. And throughout the exhibit you will find a series of telescopes through which you can view stars and planets in their real-time positions in the sky – when you move these telescopes, your view changes, just like the real thing.
In the backyard of My Sky is a dome in which a giant, 5-foot diameter, topographically accurate scale model of the Moon resides. This Moon was created using the most up-to-date data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter; and you get to rotate and explore this model Moon, touching its mountains, valleys and craters. You can explore the far side of the Moon – a side we never get to see here on Earth. The Moon is even lit up in such a way that as you move around it, you can see its different “phases”. Stars dot the entire inside of the dome, transporting you farther out into space; and an audio tour invites you to look for the Moon’s distinct features and to explore its surface in detail.