7 reasons to blast off with Summer of Space at Carnegie Science Center

On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong took a giant leap for mankind and became the first person to walk on the moon.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this historic achievement, Carnegie Science Center is launching new lunar programming. Summer of Space includes interactive exhibits, an educational documentary, star-gazing parties and story times for tiny rocketeers.

The lineup continues the Science Center’s aim to educate, delight and inspire visitors with NASA’s most famous mission.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, poses beside the United States flag. Photo courtesy of NASA.

1. Space on the big screen

After a year of planning, the festivities blasted off with the debut of “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition.” The immersive, 40-minute film was made exclusively for science centers and museum theaters. The Rangos Giant Cinema’s 70-foot-by-38-foot, high-def screen takes kids on the Eagle’s exhilarating journey into orbit with 70mm footage and audio recordings. You might not defy gravity while watching it, but you’ll feel the anxiety and thrills of this exciting mission. (Watch the trailer here.)

For science fiction fans, the theater ventures into a less realistic space age with a screening of the original “Star Wars” trilogy at the end of June.

2. A brand new STEM exhibit

In mid-June, the Center will unveil its new 600-square-foot exhibition, “Sun, Earth, Universe,” which the National Informal STEM Education Network developed in collaboration with NASA. Get the scoop on the latest scientific research and learn how Earth is changing, what’s happening on the Sun and whether there’s life beyond the Milky Way.

3. Lean back, look up

Over at the Buhl Planetarium, guests can enjoy “Fly Me to the Moon.” Premiering July 1, the new production highlights Pittsburgh’s role in humanity’s greatest adventure. Hop aboard a Saturn V rocket and marvel at the lunar landscape. Planetarium team members will share their knowledge of astronomy and Earth/space science and likely spark kids to investigate further.

The monthly SkyWatch gives kids a chance to explore space on a personal level.

4. Rooftop stargazing

Those resident experts also are on-hand during the Science Center’s monthly stargazing event, SkyWatch. Head to the Observatory’s rooftop telescope for a dazzling view of the heavens. Gaze at the full moon on July 16 and catch a Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 13. Sessions are offered at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. during each Sky Watch.

5. Weekly sun and moon action

If your little ones have a bedtime before the sun goes down, take them to Solar Sundays running June 23 through Aug. 25. The daytime activity allows kids to safely observe the center of the universe with solar telescopes and sun funnels. Follow that sunny experience with Moon Mondays from June 24 through Aug. 26. Early learners and their grown-ups will enjoy special presentations of Moon-themed stories in the planetarium.

6. The big anniversary weekend

Space out on the actual moon landing anniversary – July 20-21 – and enjoy interactive activities, telescope viewing and galactic presentations. Stop by the gift shop and pick up some Astronaut Ice Cream to really make the experience come alive!

7. A familiar voice

In case you need one more reason to visit the Carnegie Science Center this summer, Jeff Goldblum, Pittsburgh native and star of movies such as “Independence Day” and “Jurassic Park,” recently recorded a new audio greeting that welcomes kids to the planetarium for shows and events. His familiar voice and offbeat sense of humor add to the experience.