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Free for After Dark Members
Adults Only (18+)
Note: The Tactile Dome and some programs have limited capacity and are available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
Lose yourself in over 650 interactive exhibits exploring perception, art, and science at our adults-only After Dark. Grab your friends and a drink and get immersed in mind-bending experiences and unique, thought-provoking programs.
What stories do we see in the night sky? People have long told stories about the moon and spun explanations for they way it moves and how our view of it changes. At After Dark: Lunar Lore, learn more about the science behind our night sky and how the moon and the stars have served as creative inspirations.
What Can the Moon Teach Us?
With Ken Finn
7:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
Fifty years ago, humans got up close and personal with the Moon. However, our planet's only natural satellite has always been part of the human condition. Come learn about the phases of the moon and what on Earth responds to this ever-changing yet repeating cycle as Exploratorium educator, Ken Finn, shares some observations and activities to make these gradual cyclic changes more understandable.
The Trip to the Moon
Accompanied by Scienceband
8:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Launch your imagination with the seminal science fiction film Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902, 15 min.), accompanied by the fact-based Bay Area supergroup Scienceband. Created by Georges Méliès in the early years of cinema, The Trip to the Moon is a fantasy of rocket exploration and extraterrestrial discovery. Keeping this cinematic treasure fresh, Scienceband will perform a full set of contemporary grooves and science facts alongside the celluloid.
On the Astral Plane
With Ishan ایشان
8:15 and 9:15 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3
On the Astral Plane playfully explores the subtle mapping of lunar forces—gravity—and lunar lore—myth, magic—onto the human mind and psyche. Tune into the physical, the geophysical, and the extraphysical in this dance performance choreographed and performed by Ishan ایشان, an experimental performance collaborative founded by Armineh Astanbous and Rachael Sharkland.
Everything Matters: Zirconium
With Ron Hipschman
8:00 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
Best known for its use in producing imitation diamonds, the element zirconium has more to offer than just glitter and shine. Too reactive to ever be found alone in its natural state, its compounds are hard, stable, and useful in a variety of industrial, chemical, and nuclear settings. Take a shine to this sparkly transition metal with scientific raconteur Ron Hipschman.
The Sound of the Space Race in Black and White
With Brad Erickson
8:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
As the United States and the former Soviet Union battled for supremacy in space, African Americans challenged white supremacy on the ground. Both of these themes took root in both countercultures and popular cultures in deep and surprising ways. Join Brad Erikson in a musical journey that traces how the space race and visions of the moon manifested in popular culture. From George Clinton to David Bowie, each musician’s imagining of space showed deep roots in their cultural backgrounds, giving rise to divergent astral views with impact that linger in popular culture today.
Moon on View: Artifacts from the Collection of the Lick Observatory
6:30–8:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, near Sun Painting
For 131 years, Lick Observatory has been an essential and active center for astronomical study in California. Over the course of its long and notable history, Lick has amassed a rich collection of scientific objects, hand-written log books from Lick astronomers, and photographic plates that include spectrograms and images from the Observatory’s programs and research. Glimpse a small, captivating sample from this remarkable collection with Lick Observatory Historical Collection project director Tony Misch.
Playful Programmable Projection
With the Tinkering Studio
7:00–9:00 p.m. | Gallery 2, Tinkering Studio
Bridge physical and virtual worlds by creating your own creatures, animating them in the block-based programming language Scratch, and launching them into a collaborative moon-themed environment.
Think of any scenario. Using five words or less, describe it in a sentence. Now watch as artist PNosa interprets your words and uses a sewing machine to draw your idea on fabric. Embroidered patches will be available for purchase.
Osher Gallery 1
Journey through total darkness in this twisting, turning, tactile sculpture. Walk, crawl, climb, and slide your way through a wonderland of textures using only your sense of touch as a guide.
Please Note: Due to the nature of this experience, certain restrictions apply. Guests who are afraid of the dark; claustrophobic; have back, neck, or knee injuries; or are in their third trimester of pregnancy should not participate. Guests wearing casts are prohibited. Also, please wear comfortable clothes.
You can reserve tickets for our 6:15 and 7:00 p.m. sessions. We also operate drop-in, first-come, first-served sessions at 7:45, 8:30, and 9:15 p.m.; tickets can be purchased at the Information Desk.
Learn more about the Tactile Dome.
6:00–9:45 unless noted
Various locations throughout the museum
Ticketing at 6:00 p.m., first come, first served
Osher Gallery 1
Draw hypnotically flowing patterns with a swinging table, and watch friction cause the patterns to slowly shrink along a spiral path. Pick up a ticket to reserve your spot in line for this popular activity.
Bechtel Gallery 3
Tune in to surrounding sounds by experimenting with strings and vibrations, and use electromagnets to build a basic speaker. Learn how to listen with your bones, and explore the workings of the inner ear.
Van de Graaff Generator
With the Explainers
Bechtel Gallery 3
Get ready to have your hair stand on end (literally). Experience our electrostatic generator firsthand—with high-voltage direct-current electricity turned down to low current levels, our Van de Graaff generator both will, and won’t, shock you. Please keep your hands on the sphere until our Explainers tell you to let go!
Cow Eye or Flower Dissection (alternating)
Do cows see color? How does a lens work? Examine the intricate structure of a cow eye to learn about similar structures in our own eyes, as well as some key differences.
Stigma, stamen, pistil, anther, style: Uncover the beautiful architecture of flower anatomy, and gather some surprising strategies that plants use to reproduce.
Osher Gallery 1
Everything is not as it seems—at first. Pick a card, any card, and watch the Explainers reveal some surprising aspects of human perception.