One feature of our Children’s Library which is easy to overlook is the Blue Planet Globe. Housed in a dark plexiglass case, the globe is designed to simulate the earth rotating in space. A small electric motor inside the globe turns it so that each rotation equals 24 hours. A light inside the globe produces a bright spot on its surface, which represents the location of the earth over which the sun is directly overhead. The seasons of one year cycle through in six minute intervals, with the bright spot (the sun) reaching it’s northernmost point, for example, on the Summer Solstice.
The globe was donated to the library in 1998 as a memorial to Mrs. Barbara Flemming. Joseph Niesyn, a mechanical engineer and amateur astronomer, created the globe and made them in his garage in California. He sold Blue Planet Globes of various sizes all over the world; one can be found at NASA headquarters.
We had to send our Blue Planet in for repairs almost 10 years later. Niesyn had died in the interim, and the company who was doing maintenance on them accidentally cracked the globe. They replaced it, but unfortunately, the new globe was made from thicker plastic, and light could not penetrate it as easily, making it more difficult to see through the plexiglass. The wattage of the light could not be increased because of heat concerns.
Last year we boosted the light using a cool compact fluorescent bulb, which was an improvement. I hope that LED technology soon will allow us to return the globe to it’s original eye-catching splendor!