Astronomy Days

Saturday, January 26 & Sunday, January 27, 2019

Saturday: 9:00am—5:00pm
Sunday: noon—5:00pm

Saturday, January 26, 2019


WRAL 3D Theater — 1st Floor, Nature Exploration Center

10am, noon, 3pm & 4pm: Journey to Space 3D
In the past half century, humans have punched through the stratosphere, walked on the moon, and lived continuously in orbit. In the coming decades, our unquenchable curiosity will take our species beyond the cradle of Earth to touch the face of another world. Strap in for the next giant leap. Next stop … Mars! Narrated by Patrick Stewart. 20 minutes.

Fee: Tickets: $5 Adults; $4 Senior, Student, & Military; $3 Children (3-12); $2 Members. Purchase tickets at Box Office.

11 am & 2pm: Dinosaurs Alive 3D
See the earliest creatures of the Triassic Period to the monsters of the Cretaceous in a life-sized” 3D presentation. Realistic and scientifically-accurate computer-generated animation brings dinosaurs back to life! 20 minutes.

Fee: Tickets: $5 Adults; $4 Senior, Student, & Military; $3 Children (3-12); $2 Members. Purchase tickets at Box Office.


Windows on the World — 3rd Floor, Nature Exploration Center

11:00am: Mars 2020 Rover
Ken Brandt, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, Robeson Planetarium and Science Center
The next great NASA mission launches in 2020. Find out about NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover.

1:30pm: Animals of the Constellations
Laura Dameron, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Learn about the history of constellations and meet some of the Museum’s live ambassador animals that represent some of the most well-known constellations!

2:30pm: Animals of the Constellations
Laura Dameron, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Learn about the history of constellations and meet some of the Museum’s live ambassador animals that represent some of the most well-known constellations!


SECU Daily Planet Theater — 1st, 2nd & 3rd Floors, Nature Research Center

10:00am: Life and the Moon
Rachel L. Smith, PhD, Head, Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Lab/Curator of Meteorites, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
How has the Moon contributed to the continued existence of life on Earth, and do we need it to survive? Could there have been life on the Moon in the distant past? Smith will present current scientific thinking on the importance of our Moon for maintaining a habitable planet, and possibly hosting its own life, and how new technology is leading to the discovery of exomoons in distant star systems.

Overview of Taurus-Littrow, the landing site of Apollo 17, December 11, 1972. Created with OpenSpace data visualization software. Image courtesy of Carter Emmart.Overview of Taurus-Littrow, the landing site of Apollo 17, December 11, 1972. Created with OpenSpace data visualization software. Image courtesy of Carter Emmart.

11:00am: Alien Landscapes
Carter Emmart, PhD, Director of Astrovisualization, American Museum of Natural History
While this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of landing on the Moon, more current robotic missions have imaged what we left there, and made maps for comparison to photographic mapping carried out by the Apollo Program. We will journey back to our landing sites on a guided tour through data visualization.

noon: Titan: Saturn’s Earth-like Moon from Spacecraft and from the Field
Jani Radebaugh, PhD, Brigham Young University
Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has a surface so cold that methane is liquid and water is solid rock. But the landscapes are amazingly Earth-like, with mountains, rivers, lakes and sand dunes. Radebaugh will show what we learned from the Cassini mission and discuss her adventures on Earth to better understand Titan.

1:00pm: The New “Wet” Moon
Allan H. Treiman, PhD, Lunar and Planetary Institute / USRA
Earth’s Moon seems a lot different than it did ten or twenty years ago. New discoveries in old Moon rocks show that our Moon had far more water than was believed — water that we can perhaps use!

This talk is generously supported by North Carolina Space Grant.

2:00pm: Rocks from Space: Meteorites in the Museum
Richard Greenberg, PhD, University of Arizona, and Ben Norton, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Rocks from space fall on the Earth every day, and these rocks tell us a lot about the tiny planets that they came from.  We’ll take a close-up look at some of the many samples right here in the Museum.

Footprint on the Moon
3:00pm: How to See the Apollo Astronauts’ Footprints on the Moon
Dan Caton, PhD, Appalachian State University Dark Sky Observatory
A method will be presented to directly see the footprints on the surface of the Moon left by the Apollo astronauts.

Overview of Taurus-Littrow, the landing site of Apollo 17, December 11, 1972. Created with OpenSpace data visualization software. Image courtesy of Carter Emmart.Overview of Taurus-Littrow, the landing site of Apollo 17, December 11, 1972. Created with OpenSpace data visualization software. Image courtesy of Carter Emmart.

4:00pm: Alien Landscapes
Carter Emmart, PhD, Director of Astrovisualization, American Museum of Natural History
While this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of landing on the Moon, more current robotic missions have imaged what we left there, and made maps for comparison to photographic mapping carried out by the Apollo Program. We will journey back to our landing sites on a guided tour through data visualization.


ECC Presentations — 4th Floor, Nature Research Center


Saturn Room

10:00am: Mars InSight Lander and Mission Update
Adam Hauser, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
Why is NASA studying Mars, how does Mars compare to Earth, and what is the mission of the Mars InSight Lander? All of this will be presented, including InSight’s arrival and landing on Mars, and the most recent mission updates and discoveries.

11:00am: International Space Programs
Ian Hewitt, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
In the 21st century it’s not only the U.S. that has an active space program, but other countries as well.  Come learn about the space programs in China, India, and other nations.

noon: The Brightest Star in the Sky: Our Sun
Ron Monti, Raleigh Astronomy Club
Life on Earth is dependent on the Sun — a cosmic furnace with an amazing story to tell about its origin, how it works, and how it affects us. Find out what astronomers and physicists have learned about it in recent years.

1:00pm: Moons of the Solar System
Ann Murphy, Raleigh Astronomy Club
This lecture will cover the moons for the different planets — from Earth all the way out to Pluto.  Suggested for ages 8 and up.

2:00pm: Saturn V: The Rocket That Took Us to the Moon
Michael P. Keefe & Adam Hauser, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors
The Saturn V is the most powerful rocket ever built.  Learn about the development of the Saturn V and how it delivered our astronauts to the moon.

Digitally created image of Dragonfly drone landing and taking off on Titan

3:00pm: Dragonfly: A Drone Mission to Saturn’s Moon, Titan
Jeff Qualls and Jani Radebaugh
This presentation will detail the plans to send a drone rotorcraft to Saturn’s moon, Titan, to study Titan in many different landing sites. The drone will be able to fly great distances to gather information and images at interesting geological sites over a wide area of Titan.

4:00pm: OSIRIS-REX Arrives at Asteroid Bennu
Jeff Qualls, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
This presentation will provide a brief overview of the OSIRIS-REX mission, highlighting recent developments as the spacecraft has arrived at asteroid Bennu and has begun its surveying operations. The sample collection that will occur in 2020 will also be discussed, as will the return of the samples to Earth.


Uranus Room

10:30am: A Scientist Goes to the Movies
Marc Fusco, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
A humorous look at the good and bad science in recent space movies. This year, we focus on “First Man.”

11:30am: Anything You Ever Wanted to Ask About APOLLO
Alan Rich, Marc Fusco, Michael Keefe, Mike Lucas, Matthew Funke, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors
Ask anything you’ve ever wanted to know about APOLLO — a panel of Solar System Ambassadors are here for an informal chat with you!

12:30pm: SpaceX and Commercial Space
Marc Fusco, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
A look at this year’s exciting developments in the commercial space industry, with a focus on SpaceX and Blue Origin, as well as the Commercial Crew projects.

1:30pm: Alien Chemistry
Matthew Funke, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
Our notion of where to look for life in the Solar System has changed in the last few years.  Why are we looking at the moons of gas giants, and what are we hoping to find?

2:30pm: Deadly Stars: The Top 10 Ways the Stars Can Kill, Maim or Really Really Hurt You!
Doug Lively, Raleigh Astronomy Club
We often see the stars as quiescent, beautiful and enduring, but given the right circumstances they can become dangerous and deadly. This lecture will explore 10 ways the stars can pose a threat to humanity or cause personal injury.

Apollo 11 blasting off.

3:30pm: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11
Capt. Mike Lucas, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
A brief history of the events leading to the first Apollo lunar landing mission. The story of Apollo 11 from liftoff to splashdown and recovery.


Neptune Room

11:00am: Moon to Mars: Applying Lessons Learned From Apollo
Tony Rice, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
What the Apollo program taught us, and how we will apply that knowledge to getting humans to Mars (and back) safely.

noon: Glorious Globular Clusters
Doug Lively, Raleigh Astronomy Club
An introduction to Globular Clusters, their place in the night sky, how to observe them, and their role in the search for extraterrestrial life.

1:00pm: Need MORE Space? How to Find Additional Astronomy Activities for the Whole Family
Sarah Taylor, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
Sad that Astronomy Days is only two days out of an entire year? Come learn about NASA programs, online activities, and space events that will satisfy your space needs all year long.

2:00pm: Big Data Astronomy
Ian Hewitt, Research Adjunct, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Modern astronomy is generating an astronomical amount of data.  Come see how astronomers are trying to address the huge challenges using things like machine learning and citizen science.

3:00pm: Exploration of Mars
Matthew Funke, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
Matthew Funke presents a condensed history of humanity’s attempts to explore the Red Planet.  What have we discovered, and what new questions are we trying to answer?

4:00pm: Getting From Here to There
Matthew Funke, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
Navigating through space is a tricky business.  How do we manage to make sure our space probes and other planets are in the same place at the same time?


Sunday, January 27, 2019


WRAL 3D Theater — 1st Floor, Nature Exploration Center

1pm, 3pm & 4pm: Journey to Space 3D
In the past half century, humans have punched through the stratosphere, walked on the moon, and lived continuously in orbit. In the coming decades, our unquenchable curiosity will take our species beyond the cradle of Earth to touch the face of another world. Strap in for the next giant leap. Next stop … Mars! Narrated by Patrick Stewart. 20 minutes

Fee: Tickets: $5 Adults; $4 Senior, Student, & Military; $3 Children (3-12); $2 Members. Purchase tickets at Box Office.

2pm: Dinosaurs Alive 3D
See the earliest creatures of the Triassic Period to the monsters of the Cretaceous in a life-sized” 3D presentation. Realistic and scientifically-accurate computer generated animation brings dinosaurs back to life! 20 minutes.

Fee: Tickets: $5 Adults; $4 Senior, Student, & Military; $3 Children (3-12); $2 Members. Purchase tickets at Box Office.


Windows on the World — 3rd Floor, Nature Exploration Center

1:00pm: Need MORE Space? How to Find Additional Astronomy Activities for the Whole Family
Sarah Taylor, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
Sad that Astronomy Days is only two days out of an entire year? Come learn about NASA programs, online activities, and space events that will satisfy your space needs all year long.

2:30pm: Animals of the Constellations
Laura Dameron, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Learn about the history of constellations and meet some of the Museum’s live ambassador animals that represent some of the most well-known constellations!

3:00pm: Animals of the Constellations
Laura Dameron, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Learn about the history of constellations and meet some of the Museum’s live ambassador animals that represent some of the most well-known constellations!


SECU Daily Planet Theater — 1st, 2nd & 3rd Floors, Nature Research Center

12:30pm:The New “Wet” Moon
Allan H. Treiman, PhD, Lunar and Planetary Institute / USRA
Earth’s Moon seems a lot different than it did ten or twenty years ago. New discoveries in old Moon rocks show that our Moon had far more water than was believed — water that we can perhaps use!

This talk is generously supported by North Carolina Space Grant.

Overview of Taurus-Littrow, the landing site of Apollo 17, December 11, 1972. Created with OpenSpace data visualization software. Image courtesy of Carter Emmart.Overview of Taurus-Littrow, the landing site of Apollo 17, December 11, 1972. Created with OpenSpace data visualization software. Image courtesy of Carter Emmart.

1:30pm: Alien Landscapes
Carter Emmart, PhD, Director of Astrovisualization, American Museum of Natural History
While this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of landing on the Moon, more current robotic missions have imaged what we left there, and made maps for comparison to photographic mapping carried out by the Apollo Program. We will journey back to our landing sites on a guided tour through data visualization.

2:30pm: Titan: Saturn’s Earth-like Moon from Spacecraft and from the Field
Jani Radebaugh, PhD, Brigham Young University
Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has a surface so cold that methane is liquid and water is solid rock. But the landscapes are amazingly Earth-like, with mountains, rivers, lakes and sand dunes. Radebaugh will show what we learned from the Cassini mission and discuss her adventures on Earth to better understand Titan.

3:30pm A Menagerie of Galaxies
Patrick Treuthardt, PhD, Assistant Head, Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Lab, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
There are an estimated 2 trillion galaxies in the observable Universe! We will talk about how they are broadly classified by visual appearance and some of the evidence for dark matter and supermassive black holes in these galaxies. An opportunity for volunteers to get involved in a new research project will also be discussed.


ECC Presentations — 4th Floor, Nature Exploration Center


Saturn Room

12:30pm: Saturn V: The Rocket That Took Us to the Moon
Michael P. Keefe & Adam Hauser, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors
The Saturn V is the most powerful rocket ever built.  Learn about the development of the Saturn V and how it delivered our astronauts to the Moon.

2:00pm: The Brightest Star in the Sky: Our Sun
Ron Monti, Raleigh Astronomy Club
Life on Earth is dependent on the Sun — a cosmic furnace with an amazing story to tell about its origin, how it works, and how it affects us. Come learn what astronomers and physicists have learned about it in recent years.

3:00pm: The Latest on Alien World Discoveries: TESS examines Planets Beyond Our Solar System
Shawn D. Bayle, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
We now know that many if not most stars have planets in orbit. This presentation will review the latest results from the Kepler and TESS space telescopes that are literally out of this world.

4:00pm: Glorious Globular Clusters
Doug Lively, Raleigh Astronomy Club
An introduction to Globular Clusters, their place in the night sky, how to observe them, and their role in the search for extraterrestrial life.


Uranus Room

12:30pm: Deadly Stars: The Top 10 Ways the Stars Can Kill, Maim or Really Really Hurt You!
Doug Lively, Raleigh Astronomy Club
We often see the stars as quiescent, beautiful and enduring but given the right circumstances they can become dangerous and deadly. This lecture will explore 10 ways the stars can pose a threat to humanity or cause personal injury.

1:30pm Anything You Ever Wanted to Ask About MARS
Alan Rich, Ian Hewitt, Ken Brandt, Adam Hauser, Matthew Funke, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors
Ask anything you’ve ever wanted to know about MARS — a panel of Solar System Ambassadors are here for an informal chat with you!

2:30pm: A Scientist Goes to the Movies
Marc Fusco, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
A humorous look at the good and bad science in recent space movies. This year, we focus on “First Man.”

3:30pm: Alien Chemistry
Matthew Funke, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
Our notion of where to look for life in the Solar System has changed in the last few years.  Why are we looking at the moons of gas giants, and what are we hoping to find?


Neptune Room

1:00pm: Our Next Giant Leap: Human SpaceFlight 2019
Marc Fusco, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
A look at NASA’s human spaceflight plans for the 21st century, with a focus on NASA’s new crewed vehicle, Orion, and the new heavy lift launch vehicle, the Space Launch System.

2:00pm: 2018 in Space Exploration
Tony Rice, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
A look back at events in spaceflight and space exploration in 2018 and look forward into what to expect in 2019.

Osiris Rex approaches asteroid Bennu. Artist's rendering.

3:00pm: OSIRIS-REX Arrives at Asteroid Bennu
Jeff Qualls, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
This presentation will provide a brief overview of the OSIRIS-REX mission, highlighting recent developments as the spacecraft has arrived at asteroid Bennu and has begun its surveying operations. The sample collection that will occur in 2020 will also be discussed, as will the return of the samples to Earth.

4:00pm: Dragonfly: A Drone Mission to Saturn’s Moon, Titan
Jeff Qualls & Jani Radebaugh
This presentation will detail the plans to send a drone rotorcraft to Saturn’s moon, Titan, to study Titan in many different landing sites. The drone will be able to fly great distances to gather information and images at interesting geological sites over a wide area of Titan.


Pluto Room

12:30pm: Getting From Here to There
Matthew Funke, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
Navigating through space is a tricky business.  How do we manage to make sure our space probes and other planets are in the same place at the same time?

1:30pm: Your Ride to Mars: SLS, the Next Generation Beyond Apollo for Human Spaceflight
Shawn D. Bayle, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
It has been 50 years since the Apollo Moon missions, and human spaceflight is not looking beyond Earth orbit. NASA is building the next generation rocket to take humankind farther into the solar system. Let’s take a look at the engineering that makes that possible.

2:30pm: International Space Programs
Ian Hewitt, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
In the 21st century it’s not only the U.S. that has an active space program, but other countries as well.  Come learn about the space programs in China, India, and other nations.

3:30pm: Big Data Astronomy
Ian Hewitt, Research Adjunct, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Modern astronomy is generating an astronomical amount of data.  Come see how astronomers are trying to address the huge challenges using things like machine learning and citizen science.