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The Science Museum and StarDate create a radio show you can see. 

Ancient Horizons

"StarDate: Ancient Horizons"
Science Museum of Virginia
Through Dec. 3
Free with $4 admission for children, $6 for adults
Call 367-0000 for show times
www.smv.mus.va.us

You may not recognize the name "StarDate" in the Science Museum of Virginia's new planetarium show, but chances are you'll recognize the mellifluous voice of narrator Sandy Wood.

Twice daily on 88.9 WCVE-FM and nearly 500 other radio stations worldwide, Wood can be heard talking about everything from planets and stars to astrophysics and mythological beliefs on "StarDate," the longest-running science program on radio. The two-minute program airs at 5:55 a.m. and 8:06 a.m. in Richmond.

Barry Hayes, director of multimedia services at the Science Museum of Virginia, was listening to "Star Date" one morning on WCVE when he was struck with an idea: Why not work with "Star Date" to produce a planetarium show?

"About a year or so ago we were asked to do an archeo-astronomy show that would run in conjunction with the 'Egypt' exhibit at the Virginia Museum," Hayes explains. As he was trying to come up with an idea, he heard Wood do a "Star Date" installment on Egypt. He realized that "['Star Date'] would be a good recognizable kind of franchise to work with." "Everybody would recognize Sandy Wood's voice," he says.

Hayes logged on to the "Star Date" Web site and found that the program had produced 22 shows on Egyptian astronomy. He e-mailed "StarDate" producer Damond Benningfield to see if he was interested in a collaboration and a partnership was born.

The result is "StarDate: Ancient Horizons," a 17-minute planetarium show explaining the mythology and astronomical beliefs of ancient Egyptians for whom sunrise and sunset signified creation and faith. Ancient Egyptians believed the sun was a god who traveled through the underworld at night and was reborn in the morning. They created the 365-day calendar based on the flooding of the Nile. They built the two largest pyramids at Giza so they framed the setting sun on the summer solstice.

"StarDate" producer Benningfield says "Ancient Horizons" is the first planetarium show the 21-year-old syndicated radio program has worked on. "StarDate" provided the research, script and narration, while the Science Museum created all the visuals for the show.

The partnership was such a success that the two institutions plan to work on more planetarium shows together. Hayes says that by fall 2000, they hope to complete a program about Native American sky legends.

Once "Ancient Horizons" closes at the Science Museum, free copies of the show will be distributed to science museums and planetariums across the country with the help of a grant from Virginia Power.

"It was great to work with them," Hayes says of "Star Date." "We approached it as a partnership of the two institutions, not as one hiring the other. ... It was a very open and healthy working environment."

"StarDate" is presented at the Science Museum in conjunction with the IMAX film "Mysteries of Egypt" and the Carpenter Science Theatre production of "Hatshepsut: Temptress of the
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