It's high in the sky, bright and shiny.
All day long, Knoxville doesn't just have one sun — we have two. It's safe to say we're a sunny crew.
Erected in 1982 for the World's Fair, the Sunsphere was built around the same premise as the Eiffel Tower. The tradition of a World's Fair started in France, and other relics, such as Seattle's Space Needle and New York's World's Fair Towers depicted in Men in Black, remain.
These fairs have been held all over the world, and the decision to have one in Knoxville was an honor. Though our little city of Knoxville didn't make the tower like Paris did, the Sunsphere should be seen as a glass half full (which it is).
In keeping with a World's Fair tradition, the 1982 event was focused on a theme: "Energy Turns The World." Representatives from different countries emphasized new and innovative technology in their booths, and Knoxville chose the symbol of the Earth's sun – the ultimate creator of energy – as its trademark monument.
In the global spirit of the fair, Knoxville's choice of monument even encompassed a worldly aspect –after all, the whole world shares the sun.
What remains is impressive. The sphere is 86.5 feet in diameter, planned to symbolically represent the sun's 865,000 mile diameter. Standing 81 feet tall, the sphere weighs about 600 tons, and its architecture has been noted as prolific in several engineering publications.
Its glass panels are painted with 24-karat gold dust, making it quite the gilded piece. As it reflects the light of the sun and its energy, giving back to the inhabitants, the Sunsphere remains true to its theme, harnessing the energy of Knoxville.
"The Simpsons" had an episode about our wonderful sphere called "Bart on the Road", in which they solve the mystery of what is hidden within the sphere. To their surprise, they find thousands of wigs and rename it the "Wigsphere."
Our own sphere holds no wigs, but the view from inside might wig you out. Its 360-degree, sightseeing vantage point is breathtaking; the river, our school, downtown and the Smoky Mountains give a wonderful opportunity for people watching. Interestingly enough, there are 360 glass-gilded panes to accommodate the wonderful, full-circle outlook surrounding our spherical beauty.
Unfortunately, the fourth floor observation deck is under construction until further notice, but this does not mean you can't see the vast views the Sunsphere has to offer, as there are two more floors for sightseeing, a restaurant, a bar and an event floor that is open for leasing events.
Our hallmark hasn't always been open to the public, and there was a period of time when the people of Knoxville and even Hollywood wondered what was inside.
Because the sphere has had such off-and-on public access, we should all take advantage of its current availability and hike up to the top to find out for ourselves what is really within.
Whether you go up to the top or admire it from the bottom, the Sunsphere is Knoxville's masterpiece and a worldly symbol of energy, with a history of the predecessors who walked the same streets we do now. It is a widely acknowledged beacon of Knoxville (note your Tennessee license – the Sunsphere makes a cameo appearance).
May our Sunsphere always make the Knoxville skyline sparkle, even after the sun goes down.
Julie Mrozinski is a junior in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.