Outer space is rushing to the outer boroughs.
In just four years, Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced this week that Queens will soon have its own planetarium.
“If we want our children to reach the stars, they must first see them. This project will make science more accessible to children in our neighborhoods and open their minds to exciting new possibilities for their future,” Gianaris, a self-proclaimed “astronomy enthusiast,” said in a press release. “It’s good to have the big [Hayden Planetarium] at the Museum of Natural History, but kids in Queens have to travel far to get that kind of education, and we thought it would be great to bring it right here in Queens.
The space museum will be built at the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, a youth center in Astoria, located between Queensbridge Ravenswood and Astoria Houses. The planetarium – the first in Queens – is expected to serve more than 10,000 young people a year once it opens in 2026.
The Intergalactic Learning Center will be built as part of the club’s expansion into a new “state-of-the-art clubhouse” spanning five stories and approximately 116,000 square feet. In addition to containing replicas of the skies, the new Clubhouse will also include some 229 affordable housing units, a portion of which will be reserved for newly elderly people released from the foster care system.
The state-funded center will also include a 1,000-seat basketball arena, regulation-sized swimming pool, research facility and lab, art studios, vocational training technology center, community theater with 175 seats, a teaching kitchen – plus a greenhouse, garden and roof equipped with solar panels.
Gianaris hopes NASA will help with planetarium programming and Christopher Walken will narrate its programs, Gothamist reported.
Construction is expected to begin next year on the new addition to the nearly 70-year-old Astoria club, and funding will come from the 2022-23 New York State budget, the publication added.
New York Post