Astronomy Programs

There’s more to space at the Museum than our Space Sciences exhibits!

Check out the wide array of offerings from our Education Division’s Astronomy Programs, and don't forget to scan our calendar for astronomy events!

Astronomy Programs News

What causes the seasons and the solstice? Astronomy Programs Manager John Winckowski explains in 50 seconds.

Gazing at a remarkable image from the James Webb Space Telescope, the shimmering landscape of a nebula

Images of Infinity, an exhibit of captivating views from the James Webb Space Telescope, is now open in the Courtyard Gallery.

Gladwin Planetarium

A cosmic landscape

In summer 2023, the Museum completed a major upgrade to the Gladwin Planetarium, replacing our old less-than-1K projector with a new Evans & Sutherland Digistar 7 dual-projection system with 4K resolution. We can now provide visitors—including visiting schoolchildren and students from Santa Barbara City College—with a spectacular view of our universe in crystal-clear resolution and breathtaking contrast. More improvements are on the way in the coming years, including a completely fresh update of the Space Sciences exhibit attached to the planetarium. Read more about the planetarium upgrade in the Museum's press release.

The tri-county region's only public planetarium is also one of the most fun places to bring your curiosity about space. Our expert Astronomy Programs presenters are ready to answer your questions during live interactive programs. Check out the current planetarium schedule for details.

Palmer Observatory

Expert Astronomy Programs presenter

The round white building near the Museum Backyard is an observatory equipped with an excellent telescope. The Palmer Observatory opens for special events and programming. It’s the centerpiece of all our Star Parties, and an exciting bonus to daytime visits if staff or volunteers are available to offer safe views of the Sun. Solar viewing opportunities at the Museum are most common in summer, and typically not offered during December and January due to the low position of the Sun on the horizon. 

Star Parties

Star Parties at the Museum

On the second Saturday of each month from dusk to 10:00 PM, the Museum hosts a free Star Party organized with the local astronomy club, the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit. Come learn about the night sky with us! Check for Star Party details on our calendar.

Astronomy School Programs

Our school field trip programs at the Museum include a full-dome planetarium show and a demonstration of the powerful telescopes in our observatory, all while meeting Next Generation Science Standards. Check out the menu of field trip programs here.

Is this a meteorite?

Hand holding a meteorite

Unfortunately, our staff don’t have time to evaluate all the “meteowrongs” that are brought to us. If you think you have a meteorite, you can learn more from meteorite experts. Run your specimen through the flowchart of tests on this page created by meteorite experts to determine if you should contact those experts.

James Webb Space Telescope

Three experts at the Museum explain what you're looking at in the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope.