Barry Butch Wilmore

Tennessee Aquarium To Host Astronaut Guest

Barry Butch Wilmore / NASA

Have you ever looked up on a clear night and become transfixed by an amazing display of twinkling stars and constellations?  From some places, you may even catch a glimpse of the International Space Station (ISS). It will appear as the third brightest object as it streaks across the sky at a rate that’s much faster than any aircraft.

According to Tennessee native and NASA Astronaut Barry E. “Butch” Wilmore, the view from the ISS looking back at his home state is just as spectacular. Wilmore is one of the astronauts featured in a new IMAX film “A Beautiful Planet 3D” coming to the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater.

On April 29, Wilmore will be in Chattanooga for the Tennessee premiere of the film. He’ll discuss his experiences in space as well as his role in capturing some of the awe-inspiring footage for the film. “I was blessed to fly into space when the IMAX cameras first arrived at the International Space Station,” said Wilmore. “I was the first to use these new digital cameras to view and capture the wonders of Earth from space, and oh my, what an experience!”  Wilmore launched May 28, 2014 and landed March 11, 2015.

“A Beautiful Planet 3D” gives audiences an unprecedented look at Earth from space. The film features stunning views of our blue planet captured by the astronauts aboard the ISS, which was built by 15 countries and is powered by the sun.  Wilmore spoke about the challenges of filming in such varied lighting situations.  “The colors in the Bahamas with a full moon at night are just unbelievable,” he said.

The Bahamas from the ISS Photo courtesy NASA

The Bahamas from the ISS / NASA

During his time aboard the ISS, Wilmore performed four spacewalks, notably among the most thrilling scenes in the film. Being in space is the achievement of a lifetime, but also full of seriousness and intense sensations that are conveyed to an audience.  The film features playful moments, too. At one point, the crew is seen celebrating Christmas wearing Santa hats and leaving bags of milk and freeze-dried cookies in the air-lock. In total, the astronauts captured a quarter of a million still photographs and between 10 and 12 terabytes of footage to create the film.

These images while beautiful, are also a reminder. Human impacts related to water use, deforestation, and the effects of climate change are highly visible when viewed from above.  Also visible from space are the positive results of conservation efforts currently in place and those evolving such as footage of Chesapeake Bay, where an ecosystem in distress has been revived.

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