In 1609, Galileo Galilei looked through his telescope and made amazing discoveries in the night sky. He revealed four satellites around Jupiter and located sunspots; viewed the phases of Venus as well as mountains on the Moon. This year commemorates the 400th anniversary of his far-reaching work.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science joins in the global celebration of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy honoring findings, initiated by the International Astronomical Union and the United Nations, with a Mars Festival as well as a new immersive full-dome show, “Invaders of Mars!,” now playing at the Burke Baker Planetarium.
The Mars Festival takes place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 17. Children eight through 12 can begin their Mars voyage by becoming astronauts on a simulated Mission to Mars in the Challenger Center. Only 24 children can take part in this special mission, which begins at 10 a.m. Cost is $15.
Additional activities, free to the public, include a Touching Mars Station where visitors will be able to touch a rock that came from Mars and receive a certificate indicating they’ve personally “Touched the Red Planet;” test their knowledge on the Red Planet while playing “Mars Tic-Tac-Toe;” and make and fly a Mars Odyssey model to discover how Mars orbiters save fuel by aerobraking.
After the Mars mission, visitors can view “Invaders of Mars!,” a new planetarium show now playing at the Burke Baker Planetarium. Each child who attends the show or participates in the Challenger Center mission will have the opportunity to design an Eggsploration Lander, which will be released from the Museum roof — a 45 foot drop. Participants with surviving eggs receive a special Mars prize.
Tickets for Invaders of Mars in the Burke Baker Planetarium are $7 for adults; $6 for children (3 – 11), seniors (62+), and college students with a valid ID; $4 Museum members; $2.50 for school groups and $5 for groups of 20 or more. For tickets, or more information, visit www.hmns.org or call 713-639-4629.