Otherworldly Appreciation

On a weeknight in 1988 — a weeknight! — my parents brought me to a special program in the St. Louis Science Center’s James S. McDonnell Planetarium, where I promptly lost my mind. 

In the days and months that followed I would reason myself down from the madness of that night, funneling the information I’d just acquired into something resembling a respectable boyhood fascination with space. I would check out every available library book on rockets, constellations, and, of course, UFOs. I would abandon a burgeoning encyclopedic knowledge of baseball cards and the players depicted on them in favor of full mission rosters from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs committed to memory. I would transition from speculative interest in Space Camp, then a popular grand prize on Nickelodeon game shows, into a dire need to attend. I would continually feed a healthy sci-fi film habit while quietly nurturing aspirations of a career in the U.S. space program. 

Over subsequent years, while returning periodically to the Science Center and the Planetarium, I would grow slowly grounded to life on earth, pursuing other interests, looking outward more than upward. 

But on that weeknight in 1988, wedged into a not-entirely comfortable seat near the center of the auditorium, as Leonard Nimoy’s instantly recognizable yet still vaguely sinister voice narrated what I would soon learn were some of the most famous accounts of UFO sightings and alien encounters ever publically disseminated, a part of me was abducted right out of my seat and into the stars above the Planetarium dome — a part that remains there to this day.

Submitted as part of the Planetarium 50th Anniversary celebration