Museum open Wed–Mon, Sea Center open daily; both 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

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.

Temporary Closures

Planning a visit to our Space Sciences exhibit or Gladwin Planetarium? These areas are temporarily closed due to construction. But astronomy will still be going strong at the Museum! Join us at Palmer Observatory for solar viewing and dynamic demonstrations on weekdays from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, and weekends from noon to 4:00 PM. Explore our calendar for free Star Parties and astronomy talks every month. Thank you for your patience while we repair our aging infrastructure.

Images of Infinity

Giant cosmic images of swirling galaxies and fuzzy nebulae in a darkened gallery space with a few guests

Images of Infinity, an exhibit of captivating views from the James Webb Space Telescope, is open in the Courtyard Gallery through September 15.

Palmer Observatory

A giant telescope in the foreground with Museum guests and staff at the edges of the image

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 demonstration of the powerful telescopes in our observatory, while meeting Next Generation Science Standards. Check out the menu of field trip programs here.

Is this a meteorite?

A meteorite guessing game spread out on a metal tray

We love to share a meteorite guessing game and pass around some meteorites as our astronomy events! 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.

April 8, 2024 Eclipse Tips

We're hosting another Eclipse Viewing Party in Goleta with the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit. Hope to see you there!

Meanwhile, guests who happen to be here at the Museum on the day of the eclipse can watch with us at the Palmer Observatory (please note that Space Sciences and the Gladwin Planetarium will be closed due to construction). Join our astronomers for safe solar viewing and fun astronomy activities for the whole family.

Past SBMNH Astronomy Programs Manager John Winckowski and NASA Solar System Ambassador Krissie Cook have tips for enjoying this cosmic event. Helpful links below.

NASA Solar System Ambassador Krissie Cook and past SBMNH Astronomy Programs Manager John Winckowski have tips for making the most of this cosmic event in the classroom, including the special shadows thrown by household and natural objects, plus different styles of viewers and activity ideas. Helpful links below.

Handy Eclipse Links

NASA's Eclipse Page

NASA 2024 Eclipse Explorer - visit for livestream

NASA Minute Eclipse Videos - full of fun facts!

NASA Eyes on the Solar System - interactive model of the eclipse

American Astronomical Society's solar eclipse safety page

Teacher Resources

NASA JPL activity modeling a solar eclipse

NASA general educator resources

NASA JPL Planetary Poetry

Exploratorium eclipse stories from around the world

NASA JPL How to make a pinhole viewer

NASA JPL How to make a pinhole viewer, featuring a cute kid! How to make a pinhole viewer with a bigger box

American Astronomical Society's pinhole projection page

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.