In 1964, the Hutchinson Planetarium had on display what was believed to be the fossil of a three-toed dinosaur foot estimated to be between 70 and 100 million years old. The fossilized foot originally belonged to Charlie Dovel who had been storing it in his basement along with several other artifacts. Dovel offered the foot to then-director (and founder of the Planetarium) Patty Carey – or Mrs. Howard Carey, Jr., as she was called in the newspaper article documenting the historical find.
Fifty years later, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is in a new location and has undergone some significant changes. Nearly unrecognizable from its chicken-coop beginnings, but with the constant mission of honoring the past and inspiring the future of space exploration, the Cosmosphere has, once again, an opportunity to display this pre-historic artifact.
Though not the kind of “curiosity” one would expect to find at the internationally acclaimed space museum, this Mesozoic marvel makes a timely appearance. The fossil was originally retrieved from 2,750 feet below the surface of a coal mine in Utah and weighs approximately 200 pounds. It has been returned for display while Flying Monsters, the dinosaur documentary narrated by David Attenborough, is showing in the Cosmosphere’s Carey Digital Dome Theater. Having transferred ownership several times over the past five decades, the fossil was offered on loan to the Cosmosphere courtesy of Tom Zarnowski of Hutchinson, Kan.
Every day, the Cosmosphere offers stunning documentaries at the Carey Digital Dome Theater. Now showing are Flying Monsters and The Last Reef. Full-length Hollywood feature films show every night, with Taken 2 currently playing. Other educational programming includes “Dr. Goddard’s Lab,” where viewers explore the history of rocketry and experience explosive experiments, and Planetarium presentations – including the miraculous holiday favorite, Star of Bethlehem, and the inspiring Night Sky Live showing daily. Visitors can also explore the world-famous Hall of Space Museum, documenting the history of space exploration from the beginning, and featuring actual flown artifacts and spacecraft – including Liberty Bell 7 and the Apollo 13 command module Odyssey.
The Smithsonian-affiliated Cosmosphere houses the largest collection of U.S. space artifacts outside the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. It also houses the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow. The Carey Digital Dome Theater proudly supports education. Camp KAOS is dedicated to inspiring explorers of all ages using STEM principles and provides students the opportunity to build leadership and teamwork skills.
For more information of the Cosmosphere visit www.cosmo.org.