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Cosmic coolness -- Local planetarium unveils massive meteorite Saturday

August 12, 2016
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

After months of eager anticipation, and perfectly coinciding with the Perseids meteor shower, the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Ave., Fort Myers, will present the unveiling of a planetary meteorite now on display during a special ceremony Saturday, Aug. 13, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the official unveiling at 2 p.m.

Guests to the event may enjoy special planetarium shows about meteorites and meteors, asteroids, and comets that day, along with plenty of activities for children and their families, a special talk on meteorites at 1 p.m., silent auctions, raffles, geocaching and more.

Heather Preston, astronomer and planetarium director, is eager to introduce guests to this very special exhibit on display.

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"The Tuolomne Foundation has given us this giant nickel meteorite to have on display. We really appreciate it," she said. "It will be on display with us for at least a year, on its own custom-built pedestal that will be easily accessible by smaller children and those in wheelchairs, and people can even touch it. It is being unveiled to coincide with the Perseids meteor shower with this big celebration and lots of fun."

Previously working for NASA and teaching physics at the U.S. Air Force Academy, among several other prestigious organizations and accolades, Heather loves working for the local planetarium, and is sure to keep the events calendar well-stocked through the year.

Different memberships are available for those interested in visiting the nature center and planetarium exhibits regularly. Call 239-275-3435 or visit for further information.

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Raising funds for a new aviary

The Calusa Nature Center's aviary has fallen into a state of disrepair and staff has been trying to raise funds to rebuild through a number of outlets.

"We need about $180,000 to rebuild it, and there are a multitude of ways one can participate and contribute," said Jayne Johnston, planetarium office manager. "One may go directly through our website, through a GoFundMe account (search "Calusa Nature Aviary"), and through an Amazon Smile account, where a percentage of your purchased items goes to our cause. Things have been patched in the process, but it really needs to be rebuilt soon."



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