March 5: The Museum in Washington, DC will open today. Due to weather, the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA is closed.

National Air and Space Museum Announces "Smithsonian's Stars"

Press Release
Wednesday October 3, 2012
Media Only:
Isabel Lara 202-633-2374
Alison Mitchell 202-633-2376
Public information: 202-633-1000
Web site:

Smithsonian Scientists Take the Stage to Discuss Latest Research

Ever wonder how moon rocks became “famous, farcical and instruments of foreign relations” and what impact “volcano breath” might have on Earth’s climate? The answers to these and other questions related to the sun, planets, stars, galaxies and the universe will be explored in a 10-part lecture series hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Presented in partnership with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, “Smithsonian Stars” features the Institution’s own scientists presenting their research and recent discoveries on everything from structures on Mercury to the Mars Science Laboratory “Curiosity” mission.

The “Smithsonian’s Stars” free public lectures will take place Saturday evenings at 5:15 p.m. from October through March 2, 2013, in the museum’s Albert Einstein Planetarium. Hands-on educational activities will also be presented beginning at 4 p.m. and, weather permitting, lectures will be followed by sky observing in the museum’s Public Observatory. The series is made possible by a grant from NASA.

Scheduled Programs

Oct. 6: “We Make ’Em and Fly ’Em—Three Decades of Telescopes for Observing the Sun at the Smithsonian”

Peter Cheimets, senior project engineer, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Oct. 20: Mercury: Oh Strange New World that has Such Structures in it!”

Michelle Selvans, planetary geophysicist, National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies

Nov. 3: “Moon Rocks and How They became Famous, Farcical and Instruments of Foreign Relations”

Teasel Muir-Harmony, doctoral candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Guggenheim Fellow, National Air and Space Museum

Nov. 17: “The Dynamic Sun”

Mark Weber, astrophysicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Dec. 1: “A Universe of Data: How We Get Science out of Space Telescopes”

Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Dec. 15: “The Mission of the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity”

John Grant, geologist, National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies; member of the Mars Science Laboratory Team

Jan. 5: “Trees in the City: Urban Tree Cover Dynamics in the District of ‘Columbia’”

Andrew Johnston, geographer, National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies

Feb. 2: “Volcano Breath”

Liz Cottrell, director, Global Volcanism Program, National Museum of Natural History

Feb. 16: “Venus: 50 Years after Mariner 2”

Bruce Campbell, geophysicist, National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies

March 2: “Robots and Humans Unite: A Decade of Astronomical Discovery with Hectospec”

Daniel Fabricant, senior physicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; associate director, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

For more information on each lecture and to request free tickets, visit:

The National Air and Space Museum is on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

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