Academy of Sciences offers innovative podcasts for its current exhibit

SAN FRANCISCO (April 4, 2006) – Thanks to the latest innovations in audio technology, visitors at the California Academy of Sciences can add some twenty-first century flair to their museum-going experience: audio tours of the current exhibit HOTSPOT: California on the Edge are now available for download to any Apple iPod or MP3 player. In addition, visitors can enjoy an audio tour of the night sky from the comfort of their own backyards, with the Academy’s continuing Sky Tour series. Both tours are free and can be downloaded at http://staging/podcasts.

Curated by Academy scientists, HOTSPOT: California on the Edge showcases the stunning biodiversity that exists within California and explains why the state has been designated as one of the world’s 34 “biodiversity hotspots.” Throughout the exhibit, visual icons cue visitors to switch on their audio players and listen to additional information by Academy scientist Roberta Brett and Jerry Kay of the Environmental News Network. These 90-second clips provide insight into the relationship between redwoods and fog, adaptations of the fire-tolerant manzanita tree, the carnivorous tendencies of the cobra lily, and much more. The HOTSPOT exhibit runs through August 6.

Sky Tour, on the other hand, does not require a special trip to the museum – only a spot away from the bright city lights. Led by Academy astronomer Bing Quock, the 20-minute Sky Tour focuses on celestial objects as seen from the continental United States. Quock begins with a survey of the visible planets, including Venus, Mars, and Saturn, as they move against a background of zodiac constellations. The tour then focuses on the Winter Circle as an example of an “asterism” – a familiar shape made entirely of bright stars. Among the highlights of the Winter Circle are Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky; Rigel, a blue supergiant; and Castor, a six-star system in a “slow stately waltz through space.”

One advantage of podcast technology is that online updates are automatically detected and downloaded to the audio player. The California Academy of Sciences will continue to add to its offerings and provide updated podcasts as they become available.


The California Academy of Sciences, including Steinhart Aquarium and the Natural History Museum, is open to the public at 875 Howard Street. Admission to the Academy at 875 Howard Street is: $7 for adults, $4.50 for youth ages 12 to 17, Seniors ages 65+ and students with valid ID, $2 for children ages four to 11 and children ages three and younger will be admitted free of charge. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. www.calacademy.org (415) 379-8000.