Palestine library's summer reading program put the cosmos in reach for hundreds of local children Wednesday.

At 9 a.m., kids and their parents were already waiting in front of the library to behold Stars & Science Austin, a mobile and inflatable planetarium containing the wonders of the universe.

“I'm excited for him,” Queen Brown said, referring to her five-year-old son, Peyton. “It's nice to have something for the kids to do during the summer that keeps their minds open.”

Head Librarian Theresa Holden said she remembered hearing about the mobile planetarium years ago. She thought it would fit this year's summer reading club theme, “Universe of Stories.”

“It's a great show,” she said. “I really want to thank the mayor, the council, and the city for helping bring this to the kids.”

Bobby Corley, co-owner of Stars and Science, said he had a passion for astronomy since he was 9. He loves sharing his passion and knowledge with children.

Formerly with the Texas Museum of Science and Technology, Corley, 51, and his former supervisor, Lucia Brimer, accepted the mobile planetarium as payment for back wages owed them when the museum went out of business.

“Since 2018, we've traveled from Corpus Christi to DFW, and from Coleman to Houston,” Corley told the Herald-Press. “All over the state, we get the satisfaction of knowing children are learning because of our program.”

Following a half hour of inflation and set-up, the children were treated to a program Corley put together detailing the history of the space program.

“We chose that because this is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing,” he said. “But this is a fully functioning planetarium; we can set it to project any number of educational shows.”

Palestine Mayor Steve Presley, accompanied by grandchildren Ella Grace Presley, 6; and Olivia Presley, 4, said the planetarium is just one event in the library's summer reading program.

“Anything to motivate the kids to read is important,” he said. “If children are good readers, studies have shown they will be more successful in school and in life.”

For more information on Palestine Library's Summer Reading program, call Theresa Holden at: 903-729-4121

For more information on Stars & Science, call Bobby Corley at 617-633-5022.