Night Skies in the Observatory

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

  • Adults
  • Families
  • Evening
  • Members
  • Public

Join us for an evening of ‘out of this world’ astronomy activities hosted by Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts. ‘Night Skies at the Observatory’ is a monthly stargazing event connecting you to celestial objects in the night sky including stars, planets, and nebulae using telescopes in Bloom Observatory and at ‘Ben’s Starlight Lounge’ on our 5th floor rooftop observation deck, featuring a cash bar. Build your own experience from any combination of planetarium shows, a live science talk on astronomy or space science, hands-on astronomy activities and continuous telescopic observing all evening (weather permitting). The program is staffed with knowledgeable observers and free star maps are provided.



Shows in Fels Planetarium 

7:15pm –The Sky Tonight 
8:15pm – To Space and Back 
9:15pm – The Sky Tonight 

Space Talk in the Franklin Theater

8:00 pm – Life on Mars: What to Know Before We Go

Does life exist on Mars? The question has captivated humans for centuries, but today it has taken on new urgency. NASA plans to send astronauts to Mars orbit by the 2030s. SpaceX wants to go by 2024, while Mars One wants to land a permanent settlement there in 2032. As we gear up for missions like these, we have a responsibility to think deeply about what kinds of life may already inhabit the planet—and whether we have the right to invite ourselves in. David A. Weintraub, professor of astronomy at Vanderbilt University and author of Life on Mars, What to Know Before We Go, will discuss the reasons why, of all the celestial bodies in our solar system, Mars has beckoned to us the most and why Mars does appear habitable. He will, in particular, focus on the most tantalizing evidence for possible living beings on Mars today, the abundance of methane gas in the Martian atmosphere.  

This talk will be followed by a book signing

The Theater is first come and fist serve and will open 15 minutes before show time

Activities in Planetarium Hallway
7:00 to 10:00 pm

Invisibility Cloak

Ever wondered if invisibility was possible? Join us here where we will demonstrate a cool form of invisibility that involves only lenses.

Life to the Extreme

We are primed to think of extraterrestrial life as being bipedal due to movies and TV. In reality, there is life here on Earth in different shapes and sizes living in the most extreme conditions imaginable that are redefining the limits of where life might form and exist in the universe. Come check out one such lifeform tonight.


Joel M. Bloom Observatory
7:00 to 10:00 pm

We will be viewing Jupiter along with objects in the Ursa Major, Leo, Bootes, Vega and Libra Constellations. The Bloom Observatory will have knowledgeable astronomers available to assist in looking through our historic 10” Zeiss refracting telescope and our 9.25” Celestron Deluxe CPC 925 reflecting telescope.

Weather Permitting


Activities in the Space Lounge
7:00 to 10:00 pm

3D Constellation Detective
Ever wonder what a constellation might look like if you looked at it from a different part of the universe? Check out the constellation Libra this month as a scaled 3D model.

Night Vision Pins
Learn about light adaptation and make your own souvenir pin to help guide you for a night of stargazing 

Live ISS & Mars Feeds
We will have screens set up to show the live feeds coming from the International Space Station and Mars Curiosity Rover and a knowledgeable staff member available to answer questions about them.

Telescope Viewing on the Roof Deck
7:00 to 10:00 pm

We will be viewing Jupiter along with objects in the Ursa Major, Leo, Bootes, Vega and Libra Constellations. There will be two 8” Celestron CPC 800 reflecting telescopes and two 12” Orion Dobsonian reflecting telescopes set up viewing the heavens with knowledgeable astronomers stationed at every telescope to answer questions and assist guests with looking through the telescopes.

Weather Permitting

•    Observatory and telescope viewing are weather permitting.
•    Planetarium shows and talks have limited seating and are on a first-come, first-served basis. The Planetarium and Theater will open 15 minutes before show times.

•    Thirsty? There is a fifth floor bar in the lounge; cash and credits cards are accepted.
•    The bar does not sell food but there are vending machines located on the first floor.

Purchase Member Tickets
Purchase Tickets

Ticket Prices:

$10 for Non-Members

$5 for Members