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NC Museum of Natural Sciences hosts Astronomy Days this weekend

January 26, 2019 GMT

The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Astronomy Days is set for this coming Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, at the downtown Raleigh museum.

And this year, the museum is marking a big milestone - the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module Eagle on July 20, 1969. And Armstrong’s first steps onto the lunar surface were broadcast live on TV to a worldwide audience.

During this year’s Astronomy Days, you can learn more about the history to reach the moon, including the Apollo landings, present-day orbiters, and future projects that will help prepare for a possible lunar colony. The free event is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 26, and noon to 5 p..m., Sunday, Jan. 27, and will include a variety of hands-on activities, presentations and more

Speakers include Allan H. Treiman, associate director of science for the Lunar and Planetary Institute; Carter Emmart, director for astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History; Jani Radebaugh, associate professor of geological sciences at Brigham Young University; and Rachel Smith, head of the Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Lab at the museum.

Visitors also can gaze at the 40-foot working model rockets of the Tripoli Rocketry Association. And they’ll get to peer (safely) at the sun through solar telescopes provided by museum astronomers and the Raleigh Astronomy Club.

Finally, kids, especially, will enjoy making and blasting off their own bottle rockets on the museum plaza and meeting live animals of the constellations (like the bearded dragon, which represents the constellation Draco).

Astronomy Days will serve as the launch for “LiftOff NC: Apollo and Beyond,” a series of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. Look for more festivals, exhibits, lunar- and star-gazing parties, films and documentaries, model rockets, space camps, musical performances, educational programming and other activities through December 2019.

It’s worth noting that the N.C. Museum of History, which is right across the pedestrian plaza from the museum will be hosting its popular African American Cultural Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 26.