Produced by the Florida Museum, University of Florida Astronomy Department, Santa Fe College Astronomy, Florida Space Grant Consortium and Alachua Astronomy Club, Starry Night is a free event full of activities for the entire family. This night of inter-planetary adventure gives visitors a chance to speak with expert astronomers, learn about the tools they use and see rocks from space. Attendees can build their own telescope, talk to an astronomer, meet an astronaut, win door prizes and other free gifts and more!

This year’s Starry Night is a part of the International Year of Astronomy, a yearlong celebration of astronomy and its impact on society and culture. The goal of the international celebration is to stimulate worldwide interest in astronomy and science, especially among young people. It also commemorates the 400th anniversary of the first use of a telescope by Galileo Galilei.

Starry Night visitors will have the opportunity to build their own “Galileoscope,” a working telescope and the cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy. Workshops are free and available to the first 50 visitors who register. Registration will begin at 5 p.m.

As visitors participate in different space-themed activities, they can earn stamps for their “Passport to the Universe.” Visit the portable planetarium for a spectacular display of the universe as seen from Earth, or check out the Astro Wall to see a moonscape in 3-D.

At 6 and 7 p.m., retired U.S. Navy Capt. and former NASA astronaut Winston E. Scott will share about his time in orbit and experience working on the Hubble telescope. Scott, dean of the Florida Institute of Technology College of Aeronautics in Melbourne, will answer questions and sign copies of his book, “Reflections from Earth Orbit,” following his talks. The book will be available for purchase in the museum gift shop.

This event is also sponsored by the Florida Space Grant Consortium and the GE Foundation.
For more information visit or call 352-273-2063.

Schedule of Events

Meet an Astronaut! – 6 and 7 p.m. Capt. Winston Scott will share stories of his life as an astronaut and his adventures in space. Ask him a question and enter the book raffle afterward. Scott will also sign copies of his 2005 book, “Reflections from Earth Orbit.”
The Science of Space – 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Join UF astronomers as they delve into popular astronomy topics. Presentations will last 15 minutes followed by questions and an amazing 3-D show with the Astro Wall.

  • 5:30 p.m. – Black Holes with professor Steve Eikenberry
  • 6:30 p.m. – Dark Matter with professor Anthony Gonzalez
  • 7:30 p.m. – Extrasolar planets with professor Eric Ford
  • 8:30 p.m. – The Formation of Stars with professor Elizabeth Lada

Build a Telescope – 5:15, 6:15, 7:15 and 8:15 p.m. Register at the front desk for a spot in one of these one-hour workshops. Participants 10 years and older will create their own telescope perfect for backyard stargazing. NOTE: Tripod is necessary for home use of telescope, and is not provided.

Arts and Crafts – 5-8 p.m. Learn about space with fun crafts and activities!

6:45 p.m. – “Galileo Gainesville” Experience the life and times of Galileo Galilei, as told through the Gainesville theatre group, Star Dust.

6 – 8 p.m. A quartet from the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra will entertain with “The Music of the Planets,” excerpts from their upcoming spring show.

The following demonstrations and activities are ongoing from 5-10 p.m.:

Solar Viewing and Stargazing – See celestial bodies with the help of professional and hobbyist astronomers.

Passport to the Universe – Visit the demonstrations and activities to collect stamps and fill the “Passport to the Universe.”

Door Prizes – Receive a ticket for a chance to win a fantastic astronomy prize! Door prize contest entry is free with event attendance.

Portable Planetarium Show (approx. every 20 minutes) – Enjoy the wonders of the constellations and the solar system with this fun and exciting show!

Ask an Astronomer – Want to know more about the science behind the stars? Ask a professional astronomer!

Tools We Use – Find out about the fascinating and unusual tools that astronomers use to study the universe.

The Gran Telescopio Canarias and “A History of the Telescope” – Investigate the science and technology that created the world’s largest telescope, the Gran Telescopio Canarias.
Discover the Invisible Universe – Listen to radio waves emitted by the Milky Way using the Radio Jove low frequency radio telescope. Learn how you can use this equipment to listen to radio waves from Jupiter and the Sun.

Space Rocks – Visit with a Santa Fe College astronomer and view SFC’s 70-pound meteorite, the Campo del Cielo. Discover the oddities of rocks from space and find out how they differ from Earth rocks!

Tim Malles Space Art – See an exhibition of space art by local artist Tim Malles.
Pico Satellites – Learn about the development of small satellites by building a K’nex model.