Outer space is hurtling towards the outer boroughs.
In just four years’ time, Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced this week, Queens will soon have its own planetarium.
“If we want our kids to reach for the stars, they must see them first. This project will make science more accessible to the children of our neighborhoods and open their minds to exciting new possibilities for their futures,” Gianaris, a self-proclaimed “astronomy buff,” announced, according to a press release. “It’s nice to have the big one [Hayden Planetarium] at the Museum of Natural History, but the kids in Queens have to travel far away to enjoy that kind of education, and we thought it would be terrific 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 the Queensbridge Ravenswood and Astoria Houses. The planetarium — Queens’ first — is anticipated to serve more than 10,000 young people annually once it opens in 2026.
The intergalactic learning center will be constructed 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 holding replicas of the heavens, the new Clubhouse will also include some 229 affordable housing units, a portion of which will be reserved for those newly aged out of the foster care system.
The state-funded hub will also have a 1,000-seat basketball arena, a regulation-size swimming pool, a research facility and laboratory, art studios, a career training tech center, a 175-seat community theater, a teaching kitchen — plus a greenhouse, garden and solar panel-equipped rooftop.
Gianaris is hopeful NASA will participate in the planetarium’s programming and that Christopher Walken will narrate its feature programs, Gothamist reported.
Construction is slated to start next year on the new addition to the almost 70-year-old Astoria Club, and the funding will come out of New York State’s 2022-2023 budget, the publication added.