Family Space Day at the George: Experience the Challenger Learning Center with your kids, plus bottle rockets!

Get out of town this weekend and head south toward Brazos Bend for a day of family fun at the George ObservatoryFamily Space Day!

For the duration of Family Space Day, the Challenger Learning Center will be open for individual children and adults to learn the importance of teamwork in a simulated mission to space.

Be an astronaut for a day as you and your child are assigned jobs aboard the Space Station Observer and work in tandem to solve real-world problems. NASA volunteers will be running the missions and interacting with participants as they experience real astronaut training.

The Challenger Learning Center is usually only open to groups, so don’t miss this rare chance to complete a mission as an individual.

Stay after your mission and see space from the other side during stargazing on the observation deck. Tickets to access the George Observatory telescopes go on sale at 5 p.m. for $5, weather permitting.

For more information on Family Space Day and the George Observatory, including mission times and rules, click here!

Family Space Day [George Observatory]Attendees prepare to launch bottle rockets at Family Space Day 2010

Volunteers from Boeing will also be on-hand throughout the day as part of the company’s third annual Global Day of Service. Boeing employee volunteers will help facilitate a variety of children’s activities, including bottle rocket launching, crafts, robotics and more.

Watch a video of all the fun at Family Space day below!

Discovery Dome hits the George Observatory for weekends this summer!

Summers at the George Observatory are about to get a whole lot sweeter.

In addition to our normal (but extraordinary) telescope viewings and astronomy lectures, beginning June 1, we’ll also have our portable planetarium — the Discovery Dome — on-hand Friday and Saturday nights through Aug. 25.

HMNS Outreach Programs: Discovery Dome
This young astronomer loves the Discovery Dome!

Each weekend night — plus member nights and at family events — the Discovery Dome will show one of three rotating shows every half hour: Black Holes, We Choose Space, and Life in the Universe.

Black Holes, narrated by Star Trek: the Next Generation’s John de Lancie, explores the mystifying phenomena of black holes, their origin and the latest scientific knowledge about what exactly black holes are and how we can locate them.

We Choose Space details the real-life adventures of astronauts at the International Space Station and on the Moon during the Kennedy administration.

Life in the Universe brings viewers behind the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, exploring the planets in our solar system. From the birth and death of stars to the formation of distant galaxies, this show is jam-packed with visuals of the universe.

Tickets are $3 for the Discovery Dome show and $5 for telescope and astronomy lecture tickets. For $10, a package of telescope and astronomy lecture tickets, a Discovery Dome ticket and a pass to HMNS Sugar Land’s permanent exhibits is available.

The Discovery Dome will run Fridays from 7:30 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 3:30 to 10 p.m.

For more information about programming at the George Observatory and all our great summer events at Brazos Bend State Park, click here!

It’s Family Space Day at the George on Saturday: Take your family to the Moon!

Challenger Learning Center Want to go to space? We can take you. Say hello to the Challenger Learning Center and Family Space Day.

The Challenger Learning Center opened at HMNS in 1988 after the tragic last flight of the space shuttle Challenger. A living, teaching memorial to the crew, the Challenger Center continues to teach children about space and space flight and perpetuate all the things the crew loved.

Originally designed for schools and groups, the Challenger takes up to 40 participants to “space” as they experience real astronaut training during their missions to the Moon or Mars. Groups perform real world problem-solving as they train to become astronauts aboard the Space Station Observer. Children and adults are inspired and experience what it feels like to be an astronaut.

At Family Space Days at the George Observatory Challenger Center, individual family members are able to enjoy this memorable experience, too. Special dates are reserved for families to come down to the George Observatory and feel the adventure of space flight. Space Day missions are run by trained NASA volunteers who add to the authenticity of the event.

And guess what? One of those special dates reserved for you and your family to travel into space is this Sat., May 19!

Families are placed on a team and work together toward accomplishing mission goals. Those goals could include assembling a communication satellite, operating on-board robots, monitoring the life support systems, acting as the doctor on-board or navigating through space in order to land gently on the surface of the Moon. But the sky’s the limit.

Each position is vital to the success of the overall mission. And, of course, every good astronaut training session involves having to solve some problems. One never knows when the Sun will erupt with deadly radiation headed toward the craft or when equipment might fail or there could be random asteroid damage.

“Houston, we have a problem” continues to be the familiar report when things go wrong. Family Space Days make the solutions available to everyone.

Interested? We thought you would be. Tickets for Family Space Day are available online until Friday at 5:00 p.m. for $10 per person.

DiscoveryDome

But there’s more! When families come to Family Space Day, we also have the innovative and immersive “Discovery Dome” — a portable planetarium! — showing We Choose Space. Tickets are available at the gift shop for $3 per person. Telescope tickets are also available for $5 per person at 5:00 p.m. for viewing when it gets dark.

What’s better than a day of discovery with the family? For more information or to purchase tickets, click here!

September Flickr Photo of the Month: Baby Alligators!

_DSC8853_R1_C1BM-LR
_DSC8853_R1_C1BM-LR by Mark L 2010.
Shared with permission.

There are some amazing photographers that wander the halls of HMNS – as well as our satellite facilities in the Sugar Land area. When we’re lucky, they share what they capture in our HMNS Flickr pool. Each month, we highlight one of these photos here on the blog.

This month, we’re featuring a photo from Mark L 2010, taken in Brazos Bend State Park – home to the Museum’s George Observatory. Spending the day there wildlife spotting is a perfect lead in to stargazing at the Observatory on a Saturday night. And as you can see – the animals are really cool!

Here’s what Mark had to say about his photo:

On Labor Day, 2011, we visited Brazos Bend State Park to take a look around and shoot a few photos. Just beyond the shore line of 40 Acre Lake against the fishing pier we saw a dozen or so baby alligators. The duck weed coated them completely, making an interesting sight.

Maybe more striking was the fact that as they were sleeping in the sun they were laying on one another much like you would expect of puppies. It was just a nice view of young wild life. We all wish our area could break out of the grip of this destructive drought, but it is surprising how beauty remains available in this park. Thanks to all who participate in making it available to the rest of us.

Inspired? Most of the Museum’s permanent galleries are open for photography, and we’d love for you to share your shots with us on Flickr, Facebook or Twitter. Check out the HMNS photo policy for guidelines.