One Last Night at the Museum

On Friday, August 28, key community stakeholders and long-time museum supporters were treated to an out-of-this-world experience at the official closing party for the Coconut Grove location of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. One Last Night at the Museum: Come Be a Kid Again attendees were invited to take a walk down memory lane and become a kid again with a variety of special activities and sweet treats.

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After a welcome by longtime supporter and Board of Trustee Co-Chair Trish Bell, guests enjoyed encounters with exotic birds and reptiles, live tunes by Frost School of Music, indulged in retro bites, stayed hydrated with Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water and  ZICO Premium Coconut Water, enjoyed libations by Tito’s Vodka and beer courtesy of Wynwood Brewing Company. Visitors had the opportunity to experience the magic and wonder of science for one last time…until the new location opens in the summer of 2016.

Frank Steslow, & Ramona & Aldo Busot

Frank Steslow & Ramona & Aldo Busot

Longtime supporter and Board of Trustee Co-Chair Trish Bell, started the evening off with a welcome message.

Trish Bell, longtime supporter and Board of Trustee Co-Chair, started the evening with a welcome message.

Zak Mann, Jon Warech, & Jamie Zuckerman on board an airplane in the Hurricanes! exhibit.

Zak Mann, Jon Warech & Jamie Zuckerman on board the airplane in the Hurricanes! exhibit.

Janine Mills & Bruce Bennett

Janine Mills & Bruce Bennett

Maria, Wyatt, David, Simone, & Levi Schwedel

Maria, Wyatt, David, Simone & Levi Schwedel

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Donut Diva's catered the event. The red velvet deep fried Oreos were a huge success.

Donut Diva’s catered the event. The red velvet deep fried Oreos were a huge success.

Visitors enjoy the Sea Lab.

Visitors enjoy the Sea Lab.

Visitors enjoy the Sea Lab.

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Thank you for keeping out guests hydrated ZICO© Premium Coconut Water.

Thank you for keeping out guests hydrated ZICO Premium Coconut Water & Wynwood Brewing Company

Guests watch the #FrostMemories slideshow in the Nostalgia Exhibit.

Guests watch the #FrostMemories slideshow in the Nostalgia Exhibit.

Special merchandise was sold during the evening.

Special merchandise was sold during the evening.

Frost School of Music played amazingly all night.

Frost School of Music played cool jazz tunes throughout the evening.

Frost School of Music played amazingly all night.

Libations courtesy of Tito’s Vodka and Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water.

Libations courtesy of Tito’s Vodka and Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water.

Cruz, Christy, & Jolie Cartaya smile in the planetarium for one last time

Cruz, Christy, & Jolie Cartaya smile in the planetarium for one last time.

Frost Science Nostalgia Exhibit

Frost Science Nostalgia Exhibit

Aiden, Avery, Andrew, & Teia Baker
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Goodbye to Our Coconut Grove Location

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science would like to thank those who were able attend our closing weekend and share one last memory at our Coconut Grove location.

For more than 65 years, Miami’s science museum has been a source of inspiration, welcoming millions of visitors from its beginnings as the Junior League of Miami to the Miami Science Museum, and recently, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Doors closed for the last time at the museum’s Coconut Grove location on Sunday, August 30 at 10:00 PM.

Frost Science packed the weekend with live science demonstrations, planetarium shows, interactive technology demos, special programming, and our “Museum Memories” exhibition featuring the museum’s favorite and most iconic exhibit pieces. Frost Science would like to thank our partners who came out over the weekend and inspired guests to learn about science.

Frost Science will reopen in its new $300 million state-of-the-art facility in Museum Park in summer 2016.

Luiz Henrique R. Siqueira & Family

Guests who are happy to be at the museum.

This young guest enjoys the Starbot demonstration.

This young guest enjoys the Starbot demonstration.

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The Kodiak Bear graces the Nostalgia Gallery with his presence.

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LIVE Science shows were scheduled throughout the entire weekend!

Guests enjoy the Nostalgia Exhibit.

Guests enjoy the Nostalgia Exhibit.

Fossil Frank wows guests with pre-historic fossils.

Fossil Frank

CappSci

CappSci’s Miami Science Barge

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Guests learn about electricity in this interactive demonstration.

David & Eli Sack hang out in our giant tire.

David & Eli Sack hang out in our giant tire.

A young museum visitor enjoys playing with Starbot robots.

A young museum visitor enjoys playing with Starbot robots.

Lisa, Travis, Sam & Kelly Schmitt

Lisa, Travis, Sam & Kelly Schmitt

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Seedlings Launch at 1 Hotel South Beach

The newly opened 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach launched its kids’ program, Seedlings, with Rock Basecamp, a kids-only event hosted by Lucas Bacardi Shriftman and Joey Shriver in partnership with Frost Science and Best Buddies.

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The event, held at the hotel’s main pool, was kid paradise with animal experiences and exploration of spectrum tubes brought by Frost Science, and activities including rock climbing, seed planting, face painting, cookie decorating and marshmallow making.

Seedlings, available for kids 4 to 12 years old, offers kids a camp-like getaway during their vacation. It guides them to an undiscovered world where 1 Hotel South Beach creates a 1 of a kind experience focused on nature. While parents take time for themselves, the hotel makes it their duty to keep seedlings safe and happy while educating them on the beautiful world around us and the importance of taking care of it with fun indoor and outdoor activities and adventures. Activities include nature walks, creating bird seed feeders, seashell art, fun in the sun competitions such as tug of war, and opportunities to participate in cooking classes, planting seeds and “drive-in” movie nights in DIY nature based vehicles made of recycled boxes.

Frost Science’s ongoing partnership with 1 Hotel South Beach adds additional kid-friendly activities on select days throughout the year ranging in solar and wind energy education to hands-on learning on marine life.

Kaden, Shilo, Jay and Laura Parker at the official Seedlings launch at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach.

Kaden, Shilo, Jay and Laura Parker

Michel Koopman, Isabella Koopman, Erika Koopman and Jonathan Shriftman at the official Seedlings launch at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach.

Michel Koopman, Isabella Koopman, Erika Koopman and Jonathan Shriftman

Guests were able to meet this owl from Frost Science who attended the event with a Frost Science animal expert.

Frost Science’s Batchelor Wildlife Center team was on hand to answer any questions.

Joey Shriver, Kane Sarhan, and Lucas Bacardi-Shriftman at the official Seedlings launch at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach.

Joey Shriver, Kane Sarhan and Lucas Bacardi-Shriftman at the official Seedlings launch at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach.

The Seedlings launch event was mainly held at the 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach  main pool.

The Seedlings launch event was primarily held at the 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach main pool.

Guests enjoy the official Seedlings launch at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach.

Guests enjoy the official Seedlings launch at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach.


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Science Art Cinema #1: Lasers

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On Saturday, August 29, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science hosted its final event, Science Art Cinema #1: Lasers, inside the museum before closing its doors to its Coconut Grove location. Science Art Cinema, a performance event series supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, welcomed art aficionados and science enthusiasts for an evening that featured 16mm science and science fiction films, fused with performances and multimedia presentations curated by Kevin Arrow, the museum’s art and collection manager; Barron Sherer, the museum’s media archivist; and Dr. Jorge Perez-Gallego, the museum’s curator of astronomy and exhibition developer. Science Art Cinema #1: Lasers focused on lasers and their many uses, from medical technology, to holograms and light shows, including a series of films about the early days of lasers, introduced by San Francisco-based film archivist, Steven Parr of Oddball Films.

After the films, guests made their way into the museum’s Planetarium to experience the immersive laser sculpture and soundscape by artist Matthew Schreiber. Schrieber’s laser installation was enhanced by a live music performance conducted by Cody Boyce, featuring well-known local guitarists, including Autumn Casey of Snakehole, Rick Fantasies, Gavin Perry and Beatriz Montevaro of Holly Hunt, Julie Ghoulie of Crud and Frank “RatBastard” Falestra of Laundry Room Squelchers.

Attendees enjoyed cocktails by Tito’sVodka, refreshments by Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, and beer courtesy of Wynwood Brewing Company.

Guests flooded our lobby before showtime for the sold out event.

Guests flood our lobby for the sold out event.

Barron Sherer works the 16mm projector.

Barron Sherer works the 16mm projector.

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Film archivist, Steven Parr of Oddball Films, stands in front of the iconic Frost Science globe.

Film archivist, Steven Parr of Oddball Films, stands in front of the Pan Am Globe.

Kevin Arrow, Jorge Perez Gallego, & Barron Sherer

Kevin Arrow, Jorge Perez Gallego, & Barron Sherer

Oksana Klimovich & Rafael Esberard

Oksana Klimovich & Rafael Esberard

Pat Schuh & Griselle Gaudnik

Pat Schuh & Griselle Gaudnik

Matthew Schreiber wowed the audience with his immersive Planetarium laser  installation.

Matthew Schreiber wowed the audience with his immersive Planetarium laser installation.

Artist Matthew Schreiber & Alexandra Kuechenberg

Artist Matthew Schreiber & Alexandra Kuechenberg

Kevin Arrow & Jorge Perez Gallego

Kevin Arrow & Jorge Perez Gallego

Josh Roberts & Jennifer Richar

Josh Roberts & Jennifer Richar

Grace Frawley & Michael Lobo

Grace Frawley & Michael Lobo

Erica Canas & Lesley Canal

Erica Canas & Lesley Canal

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Angelique Arazi, Alex Arazi, & Alexis Markopoulos

Angelique Arazi, Alex Arazi & Alexis Markopoulos

Wynwood Brewing Company provided guests with their amazing local brews.

Wynwood Brewing Company provided guests with amazing local brews.

Bartenders served Tito’s Vodka cocktails all evening.

Bartenders served cocktail courtesy of Tito’s Vodka.

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In Memoriam: Jack G. Admire

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 5.11.03 PMThe Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science mourns the passing of longtime supporter Jack G. Admire. An honorary trustee, Admire served as president of the museum for six terms and was recognized alongside his wife, Ruth, with the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science Award at the 2013 Galaxy Gala. Admire was generous in his commitment to the museum and its programs, including WPBT2’s Star Gazers.

On behalf of the Frost Science Board of Trustees, we honor this dedicated friend of the museum who will be sorely missed.

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Curious Vault Collaborations 002: Insight Flight

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Art and science form a cohesive bond that goes way back. Leonardo Da Vinci was an inventor and world-renowned artist. Pablo Picasso dissected geometric figures to create masterpieces. Scientific breakthroughs and inventions gave us new mediums to appreciate art, such as movies and recorded music. Today, the the Phillip Frost Museum of Science celebrates art and science and takes it a step further by merging a scientist and an artist to create a piece for the museum’s collection connecting both worlds through a chosen theme.

On Tuesday, July 14, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science hosted its “Curious Vault Collaborations 002,” exploring the past, present and future of flight. The Curious Vault Collaborations project partners a local artist and scientist together to create a tabletop display using at least one item from the museum’s collection. The special evening included the unveiling of the Museum’s latest Curious Vault Collaboration, Insight Flight, by sculptor Robert Chambers and Dr. GeCheng Zha, University of Miami professor and director of the Aerodynamics and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) Lab.

Curious Vault 002: Insight Flight

Curious Vault 002: Insight Flight

The night’s programming kicked off with a moderated discussion with Bookleggers founder and writer Nathaniel Sandler; Kevin Arrow, art & collection manager for the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science; sculptor Robert Chambers; and Daniel Espinal, who represented Dr. Zha during the evening.

Throughout the night the Miami Cityscapes silent auction took place, featuring art created by ten local artists including Edouard Duval Carrié, Agustina Woodgate, Cesar Santos, Emmett Moore, Felice Grodin, Jenny Brillhart, Leyden Rodriguez- Casanova, Maritza Molina, Monica Lopez de Victoria and Pablo Cano. DJ Le Spam of City Progress Studio and Lance Vertok took the audience into another dimension with their funky, space-age sounds coupled with corresponding Science Art Cinema projections inside the planetarium dome. At the end of the night guests were able to take home a free book from Spaceleggers, courtesy of Bookleggers.

Guests sipped on courtesy cocktails by Tito’s Vodka and Afrohead Premium Aged Dark Rum served by Gramps and burgers courtesy of Shake Shack.

Proceeds from the event benefited the three Knight Arts Challenge Winners participating and providing programming: Bookleggers Library, City of Progress, and the museum’s event series Science Art Cinema.

The night would not been as successful without our the generosity of our sponsors: The New Tropic, Shake Shack, Gramps, Tito’s Vodka, and Afrohead Premium Aged Dark Rum.

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4th Annual Miami Underwater Festival: A Splashing Success

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Florida is surrounded by 1,197 miles of coastline. That’s the distance from Miami to Philadelphia! The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science’s 4th Annual Miami Underwater Festival was devoted to educating the community to understand more about what lies underneath our city’s surrounding 84 miles of water.

In June 2015, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science invited South Floridians to “dive into” its 4th Annual Miami Underwater Festival, sponsored by festival founders Shelly and Marko Dimitrijevic, with the theme of  “Coasts, Reefs and Open Oceans.” The festival was held in celebration of the global World Oceans Day, in honor of the oceans that link the world together, the products they provide to our daily lives, and to raise awareness of the current challenges faced.

Visitors explored some of the themes and topics that will be featured in the Living Core Aquarium  at the museum’s future site, opening in downtown Miami’s Museum Park in summer 2016.

The festival kicked off on Thursday, June 11 with the fifth edition of the museum’s Science Up Close series. The evening was filled with casual science conversation, designed to make science relatable. Presented in partnership with COSEE Florida, Dr. Nicole Fogarty of Nova Southeastern University’s College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography gave a presentation on “Romance on the Reef: When Threatened Coral Species Mate.” Acclaimed marine scientists, researchers, and graduate students led small group discussions following the presentation. The Frost School of Music serenaded guests with live jazz music while the Wynwood Brewing Company and Vita Coco provided guests with libations. The evening was presented by COSEE Florida.

Fernando Bretos , Eldredge "Biff" Bermingham, Nicole Fogarty, Gillian Thomas, Ta-Shana Taylor

Fernando Bretos , Eldridge “Biff” Bermingham, Nicole Fogarty, Gillian Thomas, Ta-Shana Taylor

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Dr. Andrew Baker

Olivier Murao & Katrina Rodriquez with Vita Coco

Olivier Murao & Katrina Rodriquez with Vita CocoMark Kleese, Elizabeth Lago, Laura Palma, Guilherme Garcia & Maria Gabriela CastroMark Kleese, Elizabeth Lago, Laura Palma, Guilherme Garcia & Maria Gabriela Castro

On Friday, June 12, more than 250 South Florida VIP’s including business, cultural and civic leaders celebrated the 4th Miami Underwater Festival at 1 Hotel South Beach. A welcome by Michael Laas, Corporate Director of Impact for 1 Hotel, and Gillian Thomas, President & CEO of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, kicked off the evening. The main event was a special presentation, “Exploring the Invisible,” by National Geographic Explorer Dr. Kenny Broad of the University of Miami’s Abess Center and Rosentiel School. Dr. Broad discussed his explorations and adventures into blue holes and underwater cave diving along with some death-defying tales. The night ended on the rooftop, where guests enjoyed a signature cocktail courtesy of Tito’s Vodka and a sneak peek of the underwater films by BLUE On Tour.

Biff Bermingham, Michael Laas, Gillian Thomas, Kenny Broad, & Roni Avissar

Biff Bermingham, Michael Laas, Gillian Thomas, Kenny Broad, & Roni Avissar1 Hotel South Beach

Marko Dimitrijevic & Anna Dimitrijevic

Marko Dimitrijevic & Anna Dimitrijevic

Maria Schwedel & David Schwedel

Maria Schwedel & David Schwedel

1 Hotel South Beach

Andy Dieguez, Kenny Broad, & Jorge Richa

Andy Dieguez, Kenny Broad, & Jorge Richa

On Saturday, June 13 and Sunday, June 14, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science invited more than 1,300 of the South Florida community to explore the oceans that surrounds us at the museum. Scientists and ocean research organizations hosted a range of presentations topics including the biology of corals, sharks, and ocean conservation efforts. BLUE On Tour, WPBT’s Changing Seas, and ScubaNation presented their gorgeous underwater films. Hands-on activities included learning how to build an aquarium, lionfish and shark dissections, and meeting and feeling our resident sea creatures in the Sea Lab. Highlights from the weekend include shark tagging information sessions, an interactive underwater photography exhibit, and a sneak peak at the CappSci Miami Science Barge. The best part of the weekend may have been speaking one-on-one with the boat load of scientists who attended. Scientists from FIU, NOAA, NOVA, Sharks4Kids, and UM were all happy to answer any and every ocean-related question. The ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert collaboration with Frost Science was made possible through program support provided by Telemundo and the Learning is Succeeding/Aprender es Triunfar Initiative.

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Feel the Force: Hurricanes and Other Hazards 2015

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The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science recently hosted Feel the Force: Hurricanes and Other Hazards, the museum’s free signature event focusing on hurricane awareness and preparedness. The event took place with support from Florida International University’s International Hurricane Research Center and Miami-Dade County Emergency Management, through funding from the Florida Division of Emergency Management. In addition, the museum grew its partnerships for the event this year, with a great presence from the American Red Cross, who supplied over 30 volunteers to help throughout the events, and Miami Dade College, who generously produced a promotional TV spot and continued to provide the popular Hurricane Broadcast Studio to the enjoyment of all the visitors.

Feel the Force kicked-off on Thursday, May 28 with the museum’s popular Science Up Close series, themed evenings of casual science conversations. This installment, “Inside the Eye of the Storm,” featured Dr. Frank D. Marks, Jr., Director of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Dr. Marks, a leader in the hurricane community who has flown in and out of the eye of hurricanes over 450 times, discussed his observations and the scientific advancements made in hurricane studies. Atmospheric scientists and disaster preparedness specialists lead small group discussions following the presentation. Guests enjoyed music by the Frost School of Music along with complimentary beer by Wynwood Brewing Company.

Dr. Frank Marks, Director of the Hurricane Research Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML)

Dr. Frank Marks, Director of the Hurricane Research Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML)

Gillian Thomas, Dr. Frank Marks, Eldredge Bermingham, & Angela Colbert

Gillian Thomas, Dr. Frank Marks, Eldredge Bermingham, & Angela Colbert

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Feel the Force continued on Saturday, May 30, with a family-friendly event where visitors learned the science behind hurricanes from real Hurricane Hunters; got ready for summer and hurricane season with rip current, water, and hurricane safety tips; and learned how to prepare for the upcoming hurricanes season with a variety of hands-on and other activities.

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Professor Tinkermeister was on hand teaching guest about about weather science!

Guests meet Owlie from NOAA’s Young Meteorologist Program

Guests meet Owlie from NOAA’s Young Meteorologist Program

Visitors explored how forecasts are made and learn what is expected for this year’s hurricane season at Tropical Weather Briefings with experts from the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service. They also tested their abilities to be an TV meteorologist in the Hurricane Broadcast Center;

Visitors explored how forecasts are made and learn what is expected for this year’s hurricane season at Tropical Weather Briefings with experts from the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service. They also tested their abilities to be an TV meteorologist in the Hurricane Broadcast Center.

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Learning to build a house that can withstand Category 5 winds!

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Miami-Dade Public Library provided an interactive, disaster-themed story time.

Meeting a local mascot, FIU’s Roary

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A Letter From Our President and CEO

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For over 65 years, Miami’s science museum has been a source of inspiration, welcoming millions of visitors from our beginnings as the Junior League of Miami to the Miami Science Museum, and recently, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Our current location in Coconut Grove, neighboring the historic Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, has grown and evolved throughout the years. No doubt many of you have fond memories of this place, like the Space Transit Planetarium or the Sloth welcoming visitors on their journey down US 1, and of course, the iconic Pan Am globe, a signature element of our lobby. Now we are beginning a new era, as our team begins to transition to the new Frost Science, a remarkable resource in science and technology for all the community, opening in downtown Miami’s Museum Park in summer 2016.

Our current museum location in Coconut Grove will officially close at 10 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 30. The museum has served as a destination for our community over several generations and we are celebrating this history throughout our final month in operation. We’re kicking things off on Sunday, Aug. 2 with our final Scientist Sundays, featuring local scientists sharing their research with our guests. On Friday, Aug. 7 and Saturday, Aug. 8, we celebrate our storied Planetarium with Laser Fest Weekend, featuring the last chance to experience our well-known musical laser shows, no doubt a special memory for many of you. We’re inviting our members for a special ‘Member Morning’ on Sunday, Aug. 23 with unique experiences and behind-the-scenes tours. Our final weekend here, Saturday, Aug. 29 and Sunday, Aug. 30, will be a celebratory occasion as we invite you to experience the museum one last time. On Saturday, we are hosting a special evening program, Science Art Cinema #1: Lasers, with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We are also staying open late on Sunday for star gazing in the Observatory and more. In celebration of this location’s legacy, I invite you all to share your memories with us on social media by using the hashtag #FrostScienceMemories. We welcome photos, stories, and videos of your experiences. For detailed information on all of our closing events, please click here.

It’s important for you to know that the passion contained within these walls will continue as we create a new legacy at our new, state-of-the-art museum. Once we close, we will continue to be out in the community. We are already planning a host of events and activities around South Florida leading up to next year’s opening. To find out when we are popping up in your neighborhood, visit the “Out & About with Frost Science” section on our website. Additionally, the museum team will continue to deliver our long-term youth program and research initiatives. Our Batchelor Wildlife Center will continue its rehabilitation work for injured birds and a drop-off resource for the community. The Best Buy Teen Tech Center will also stay open through the New Year and as always, offers free membership for middle and high school students.

This museum belongs to South Florida: it’s a place where people have discovered a love for science and technology; a place where memories have been created; a place where children have grown up and then taken their kids and even grandchildren. So many of you have played a valuable role in helping make this museum possible and I hope you can join me in saying goodbye to this location.

Once again, I thank you for your continued support of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in helping us to change our community, our nation, and our planet. We will continue to update our website with news and announcements on the progress of our new museum, a signature addition to South Florida’s educational, cultural, business and civic landscape.

Gillian M. Thomas

President & CEO

Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

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The Discovery of Kepler-452b

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Earth on the left. A very hopeful Earth-like rendition of Kepler-452b on the right. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T.Pyle

As told by Dr. Jorge Perez-GallegoResident Astronomer and Exhibition Developer at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science:

It has been 20 years since the first exoplanet – a planet that orbits a star other than the Sun – was discovered in 1995. Currently, we are aware of the existence of 1,879 exoplanets. As many as 1,033 of those have been discovered by the Kepler Mission. Launched in 2009, Kepler is a space observatory designed by NASA to survey a portion of our region of the Milky Way to discover exoplanets. It does so by monitoring the brightness of stars with a photometer, an instrument that measures light intensity. Periodic tiny changes in brightness may be caused by an exoplanet that crosses in front of its host star. This detection method – transit method – allows us also to estimate the size of the exoplanet, and the period and size of its orbits.

On July 23, NASA announced the discovery of exoplanet Kepler-452b: “Kepler” for being discovered by the Kepler Mission, “452” for being the 452nd planetary system confirmed during the course of the mission, and “b” because it is the first planet discovered in the system. Kepler-452b has been labeled as the most Earth-like planet to date. Now, what does that mean? And, how accurate is that?

This is what we know about Kepler-452b. Its radius is 60% larger than the Earth’s radius and its orbit is slightly larger than the Earth’s orbit and still in the habitable zone – the region around a star where planets can support liquid water. It is orbiting a G2 star like our Sun and it does so in 385 Earth days. This star is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our Sun, and because of this, it is also larger and brighter. It could by now, for example, have evaporated Kepler-452b oceans, if they were ever there. So, is this an Earth-like planet? In order to answer this better we would need to know its mass, but we currently do not.

This is what we do not know but we can try to guess. Our understanding of planetary science suggests that there is a slightly better than even odds of it having a rocky surface and being 5 times heavier than Earth, and thus all the hopeful artist renditions including lakes, mountains and volcanoes. At this point, then, we cannot conclude Kepler-452b is an older cousin of the Earth. It could also very well be a gaseous older cousin of Neptune.

The ultimate goal is to find a planet that can host some kind of complex life. Before Kepler-452b, our best candidate was Kepler-186f. This planet is only 10% larger than Earth, but orbits around a much fainter yet more stable M star. Nevertheless, if finding complex life is our ultimate goal, these stars may be our best candidates since they account for as much as about 75% of the galaxy’s stars.

Kepler-186f is about 500 light years away. Kepler-452b is about 1,400 light years away. New Horizons just reached Pluto, about five light hours away, after almost a ten year journey. It is obvious we are not going to be visiting any of these planets anytime soon. But that does not mean we never will.

One of the permanent exhibitions at the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (opening in downtown Miami’s Museum Park in summer 2016) is being developed around the idea that, with time and working together, humans can overcome any challenge. Named “Feathers to the Stars,” the exhibition will take you on an inspiring journey from the evolution of animal flight, through the development of human flight, to the future of space exploration. The challenge of interstellar travel may look big, but so did going to the Moon thousands of years ago.

Going back to the discovery of Kepler-452b, whether it turns to be more or less Earth-like, is indeed great news. We are getting closer to finding another “Earth” elsewhere in our galaxy. At this point, it is just a matter of time. Kepler data, for example, suggests that there may be 17 billion Earth-sized planets in the disk of the Milky Way alone. Of course, it will take a long time to map it, but we are working on it. In the future, missions like Tess in 2017, will provide more detail on the size, mass, and atmospheres of exoplanets, and missions like the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, will also provide astonishing detail on the color, seasons, weather and even the vegetation of some exoplanets. Onwards!

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