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Safari with an Elephant Family

Africa's Elephant Kingdom at the Rangos Omnimax Theater   

June 28 - December 19    


Dumbo and Babar are for kids. If you want to see real elephants up close and personal, grab a seat at Carnegie Science Center's Rangos Omnimax Theater for Africa's Elephant Kingdom.

Premiering June 28, the film was shot in Kenya's Amboseli National Park and follows an elephant family on a trek across Africa's vast plains.

You'll see newborn elephants taking their first steps, young males jousting in mating rituals, bulls knocking down trees, and witness time-lapse photography of the park's vast savanna, deep swamps, and acacia-filled forests.

Here are a few elephant facts to whet your appetite:

WHAT'S IN A NAME?: "Elephant:" from the Greek "elephas," meaning "ivory."

LOOKING GOOD: Earth's largest land mammal is gray in color and has thick, craggy skin that's sparsely covered with coarse hair. Unlike their Indian cousins, an African elephant's ears are large and fan-like. All elephants have four front toes and three hind toes; and an adult male can reach 10 feet in height and weigh up to 12,000 pounds.

MULTITASKING: With its two finger-like lips, an elephant's trunk serves as both its nose, and hands. Elephants use their trunks to eat, pull up vegetation, throw dust, spray water, snorkel, and vocalize. A trunk contains 50,000 muscles and tendons and can grow to be six feet long.

TUSK-TUSK: Actually elongated incisor teeth, elephant tusks continue to grow throughout an elephant's life--sometimes as much as seven inches a year. Tusks, which can reach 10 feet in length and weigh more than 200 pounds, are used for protection and to forage for food and water.

BIG APPETITE: Elephants consume 50 gallons of water and eat about 350 pounds of grasses, shrubs, flowers, leaves, fruit, bark, and salt daily.

FACTS OF LIFE: An elephant can live 50 to 60 years, and gestation takes 22 months. A female elephant is fertile only four days every two years.

A Planet Dance in Twilight

The best gathering of all five bright planets visible in many years reaches its peak during the first two weeks in May.  Look west each evening at dusk and watch the changing configuration the planets make with each other. To estimate distances in the sky, the width of your fist held at arm’s length measures about 10° of sky, and the width of your little finger held at arm’s length measures about 1° of sky.

On May 1st, the span of the five planets from Jupiter to Mercury is 39° long and shrinks to 33.5° by May 14th. Bright Jupiter is the highest and appears separate from the other four to its lower right.  The remaining four planets, all in Taurus, fit into 13°.  Venus is the brightest and Mars the faintest. 

On May 1st, Mercury is 6° to the lower right of Venus and Saturn is 6.5° to the upper left of Venus.  Mars is 2.5° to the right of Saturn.  Aldebaran, the star that marks the eye of Taurus, is 5.5° to the lower left of Saturn.

The tightest grouping and best individual pairings happen between May 3rd and10th.  On the 3rd, Mars passes 2.2° to the upper right of Saturn.  On the 5th, Venus, Saturn and Mars form a compact triangle less than 3° on a side.  On the 6th, Venus passes 2.4° to the upper right of Saturn.  On the 10th, Venus passes 0.3° to the upper right of faint Mars. 

After May 10th, watch Jupiter race down toward Venus.  The two brightest planets appear closest to each other on June 3rd, with Jupiter passing 1.7° to the lower left of Venus.

Illustrations of these gatherings can be found on the Buhl Planetarium’s Astronomical Calendar on Carnegie Science Center’s website.  A monthly star chart is available by request.  Call 412.237.3397.

By Jenny L. Pon, Astronomer,Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium & Observatory, Carnegie Science Center


Summer Camps

There are some really cool new camps and workshops at Carnegie Science Center this summer--one is so cool, it's downright cold.

"Science of Ice Hockey" will be held off-site at Blade Runners in Bethel Park and Hamarville for children who have completed grades 3 though 6.

Learn how a hockey stick works, how goalies use math to make saves, and the science behind the Zamboni. Also new is Kennywood Science, which includes a trip to the amusement park; Sports Camp, with a tour of Heinz Field, and UFO Camp. At "Get Into the Light: The Art and Science of James Turrell," young scientists will learn what art, light, astronomy, and volcanic craters have in common.

The class, held at both Carnegie Science Center and the Mattress Factory museum, explores the search by artist/scientist/pilot James Turrell for a volcanic crater in Arizona. Holograms, projections, and outdoor installations are all part of this full-day camp for kids who've completed grades 3 through 6.

            Half-day and full-day camps and workshops--from LEGO® Mania and Junior Wizard Camp to Robotics and River Camp--will be held for preschool, elementary, and middle school children. Family workshops--Rocket Building and Elephant Extravaganza--are also available. For more information, call 412-237-1637 or log on to www.CarnegieScienceCenter.org.


Discover Fun for Your Little Ones: Join our Handprints E-mail Service

So you're searching for fun, educational things to do with your 3 to 6-year-old? Well, send us your e-mail address and we'll keep you updated on Carnegie Science Center's preschool sessions and workshops--such as this summer's Rainbow Stew, Ladybugs, and Bubble Science--as well as new exhibits like Busytown, that opens June 13. In addition, we'll clue you in on interesting parent-related Web sites and activities you and your child can participate in together.

            This e-mail service is a new feature of Carnegie Science Center's Handprints program. Handprints began as a visual guide for parents in which preschool age-appropriate activities and exhibits are labeled with colorful palm print tags. These exhibits are designed to get kids exploring, asking questions, and learning. Some of the Handprint exhibits at the science center are: SciQuest (earthquakes and echo tubes), SeaScape, (a touch tank of starfish and crabs), Exploration Station Junior, (construction zone, water table), UPMC SportsWorks Junior, (rock climbing wall and pitching cage), and the Buhl Planetarium ("The Sky Above Mister Rogers Neighborhood").

            To receive e-mail updates, contact Lynda Herrman at mherrmanl@csc.clpgh.org.  Sponsored by Subaru of America.



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