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Space Science Events

Starry Nights

2018 Dates and Times:

Dates Observing Event
January 5 6 - 8 p.m. First Friday - Lunar Eclipse Preview
January 31 5 - 7 a.m. Super Blue Moon Eclipse
February 2 6 - 8 p.m. First Friday - Da Vinci: Preview
March 2 7 - 9 p.m. First Friday - Da Vinci: Anatomy
April 6 8 - 9 p.m. First Friday - Da Vinci: Flight
April 18 8 - 9 p.m. Sandia Mt. Stargazing
May 4 8:30 - 9 p.m. First Friday - Da Vinci: Futurist
June 1 8:30 - 9 p.m. First Friday - Da Vinci: Technology
June 30 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Asteroid Day
July 6 8:30 - 9 p.m. First Friday - Da Vinci: Earh Sci.
August 3 8:30 - 9 p.m. First Friday: Mars Close Encounter
September 7 8 - 9 p.m. First Friday
September 12 8 - 9 p.m. Sandia Mt. Stargazing
September 21 TBA Plutopalooza
October 5 7 - 9 p.m. First Friday
October 20 TBA Intl. Observe the Moon Night
November 2 7 - 9 p.m. First Friday
November 26 TBA InSight Lands on Mars
December 7 6 - 8 p.m. Old Town Holiday Stroll

In 2018, we're offering monthly night-sky observing opportunities to coincide with museum, local, or international events.  More specific information about each activity will be updated below as the day draws closer.  These events are subject to change and may happen at locations other than the museum.
Members of local astronomy groups will help you study the moon and stars through a variety of telescopes. Each event will feature any visible planets and other interesting objects in the sky.
The observing part of any event may be canceled when the sky is cloudy.  If weather conditions are in question, check the museum's Facebook page for updates an hour before each event is scheduled to begin:

Upcoming Events

June 30, 2018 - 10:00am

From 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, learn about asteroids, their impacts on Earth, and NASA’s mission to the asteroid belt.

In the ViewSpace Theater, the museum will be streaming a special live broadcast of other Asteroid Day celebrations around the world.  Hear from astronomy experts about the nature of asteroids and how they influenced Earth’s history.  The video will continue throughout the day on June 30 during the museum’s normal hours.  Find out more at:

Solar observing will be offered by Timmy Telescope Solar Astronomy Outreach from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. if the sky is clear.  Safely examine any activity on the sun that day through special telescopes in front of the museum entrance.

Asteroid Day will feature hands-on activities for the family starting at 10 a.m.  The center of the museum’s acclaimed Walk Through Time shows the dramatic asteroid impact that researchers believe lead to the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.  On this day only, museum geologist Jayne Aubele will lead a guided tour of the area and describe exactly why scientist think a rock from the sky changed the course of Earth’s development.  Participants should assemble at the bleachers next to the T-Rex in the museum atrium at 11 a.m.

At 12 p.m., the planetarium will present a sneak peak of a new planetarium feature entitled Incoming!  Asteroids and comets have collided with our planet throughout its history, changing the course of life on Earth and shaping the world we know today.  Explore the past, present, and future of our Solar System and the landmark discoveries scientists have made sending spacecraft to visit tiny worlds.  This program will be presented on Asteroid Day only and added to the regular planetarium schedule later in the year.

At 1 p.m. Dr. Thomas Prettyman, a scientist with NASA’s Dawn Mission, will present a talk about what the spacecraft has discovered on the dwarf planet Ceres, the major asteroid Vesta, and other objects in the asteroid belt.  After the talk at approximately 2 p.m., Dr. Prettyman will conduct a guided tour of the exhibition he curated: Dawn’s Mission to the Asteroid Belt.  On display until March, 2019, this temporary exhibit describes how the Dawn spacecraft works and what amazing discoveries it’s made between Mars and Jupiter.

Admission to the exhibit tours, planetarium show, talk, and all of the other Asteroid Day activities are included with admission to the da Vinci exhibit or planetarium.  The record-attendance-setting Da Vinci — The Genius exhibition will close only one month after Asteroid Day, making this an excellent opportunity to visit the museum with many extra activities included at no additional cost.

Finally, for anyone who wishes to come back to the museum campus that evening, a telescope will be set up on the Mountain Rd. sidewalk to view interesting objects in the night sky, weather permitting.  From 9 – 10 p.m., it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to see asteroids, but the planets Jupiter and Saturn may be studied.  Admission will be by donation.  Because of another event happening that evening, the museum will not be open and no bathrooms or other facilities will be available.  Also, this part of Asteroid Day will be canceled if there are clouds in the sky.

Asteroid Day happens on June 30 every year and is an international campaign to educate people worldwide about asteroids, the impact hazard they may pose, and what we can do to protect our planet, families, communities, and future generations.  Events held in various cities on Asteroid Day range from professional lectures and personalized programs for the public to live entertainment, all to help raise public awareness and support for ways to increase detection and tracking of asteroids.  Find out more from the event’s international site:

July 6, 2018 - 5:30pm

The next First Friday evening event at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science explores Leonardo da Vinci’s views of the natural world. On Friday evening, July 6, museum visitors will have one last chance to enjoy discounted prices to see Da Vinci — The Genius since this will be the final First Friday before the exhibition ends.

On July 6 from 5:30 – 9 p.m., admission to Da Vinci — The Genius is discounted by $5, making the final admission charge: Adults $17, Seniors $15 & Children $10. Admission to the museum’s permanent exhibits (excluding Da Vinci — The Genius), is $5 per person, a $3 savings off the usual adult price.

Da Vinci – The Genius demonstrates the full scope of Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable genius as an inventor, artist, anatomist, sculptor, engineer, musician, and architect. Guests will enjoy many unique pieces including life-size machine inventions, entertaining animations of da Vinci’s most notable Renaissance works, and an eye-opening, in-depth analysis of his most famous piece, “Mona Lisa.” Visitors will be able to push, pull, crank, and interact with many of these exhibits for a hands-on understanding of the scientific principles behind them.

“Almost 300 years before the modern science of geology began, Leonardo da Vinci made fundamental observations and scientific conclusions about rocks, fossils, water, and mountains. He used these observations to create art that was geologically accurate,” said Jayne Aubele, NMMNHS Educator and Geologist.

On July 6 only, aspects of da Vinci’s contributions to our understanding of Earth Science will be explained by experts from several organizations at table displays:

  • Mama’s Minerals will display beads, fossils, rocks, and more;
  • ABQ Gem and Mineral Club will offer demonstrations and displays of rough and polished minerals;
  • New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources will present a demonstration of the newly-implemented statewide groundwater monitoring project;
  • UNM Institute of Meteoritics will have meteorites and “meteorwrongs” on display with games and information on identification;
  • NM Environment Department, Ground Water Quality Bureau/Pollution Prevention Section, will show a hands-on water cycle and pollution “ant farm” which mimics pollution;
  • U.S. Geological Survey Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory will distribute hand-outs and information about earthquakes;
  • Bohannon Huston, Inc will have their hands-on river model to demonstrate erosion and water movement in channels;
  • New Mexico Academy of Science will showcase their work to support science and science education in New Mexico and accept nominations for Outstanding Science Teacher Award;
  • NMMNHS scientists and educators will present information about da Vinci’s observations regarding rocks and fossils, and his paintings and drawings that depicted accurate geology;
  • Museum volunteers will display different minerals and the natural paint pigments that can be made from them by hand with techniques used by da Vinci;
  • Sandia National Laboratory will present educational information related to their studies.

The Planetarium will present Fractal Friday at the usual times of 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. with the normal admission of: Adults $10, Seniors $7 & Children (3-12) $5. Shows typically sell out in advance, so get your tickets early on the Fractal Foundation’s website:

The Museum Observatory will be open to the night sky for 30 minutes from 8:30 – 9 p.m., weather permitting, and da Vinci exhibition admission will be required for access.

The Nature Works store will be selling fascinating da Vinci merchandise and other unique gifts from 5:30 – 8 p.m. The Hope Café will be open continuously from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. that day, so you can enjoy dinner while waiting for the museum to reopen (only the café entrance will be open from 5 – 5:30).

Crack the da Vinci code and get a special discount! A word based upon a da Vinci invention will unlock a 10 percent discount on a da Vinci audio tour when deliberately said at the tour rental kiosk. The code word for June is “Vitruvian.”

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