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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coming Up: California Academy of Sciences – free opening day

This Saturday is the long-awaited reopening of the California Academy of Sciences. And what a place to behold!

The Exterior: a “green” building in more ways than one. It’s going for a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, their highest designation. It will use 35% less energy than required by code. But by “green” you also have to consider the living roof, with 2.5 acres of native California plants requiring no irrigation. It will be native habit for butterflies, birds and bees, and the ground cover helps insulate the building.

The Aquarium: Look for the Philippine coral reef – 25 feet deep, with 212,000 gallons. It’s been in the works for three years, with scientists growing the coral. It’s populated with 2,000 reef fish. Look for another 100 tanks of fish, reptiles and other water creatures.

The Rain Forest Dome: this glass dome is 4 stories high – a constant 85 degrees, with birds and butterflies by the hundreds. Under the dome is the Amazon flooded forest, with an underwater tunnel with views of what you’d see in the Amazon.

Skeletons: a blue whale skeleton, all 87 feet of it, along with a 40 foot tall T-Rex.

The Planetarium: get set for a virtual tour of the solar system, set from real-time NASA data.

The Diaorama: Did you see Ben Stiller in Night at the Museum? It’s going to be hard not to laugh walking through this, thinking of all those stuffed creatures coming to life after dark. Five of these 21 dioramas will have live animals – including one with 20 penguins!

I’ll post my review of the renovated Academy of Sciences in the near future, but if you go, post your comments here!

Opening day is free, and I’m sure will be mobbed. I can’t decide whether to risk the crowds or wait a few weeks.

One thing to consider: there will be a party this weekend. Both days (though Sunday you pay), they’ll have live music all day, in addition to food, activities and crafts, starting at 9:30 a.m.

What: California Academy of Sciences
Where: 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Cost: Free on Saturday 9/27. After that it’s $24.95 for adults, $19.95 for kids 12-17, $14.95 for kids ages 7-11, and free ages 6 and under

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