Embark on a cosmic journey with us this First Friday, as we delve into the mesmerizing realms of astronomy and space—and the captivating history of our cosmic understanding.

Join our celestial celebration and discover the “spheres of influence,” where planets, orbits, stars, and moons collide with the forces of gravity, societal pressures, norms, and education. Witness captivating science spectacles that have shaped our understanding of the universe—and meet the people behind these famous experiments that have left an indelible mark on the history of astronomy. 

Immerse yourself in the tools of the trade with a hands-on collection featuring spectroscopes, telescopes, diffraction glasses, and unique celestial globes, astrolabes, and armillary globes. Touch, feel, and discover the instruments that paved the way for celestial revelations. You’ll also explore star charts, marginalia, and more in our historical library collections related to the revolutionary advancements in astronomy.

Engage your creative side as you craft your personalized star charts. What celestial wonders will you map in the night sky? The possibilities are as vast as the cosmos itself! And don’t forget to take home a special gift: your very own solar eclipse glasses! Be prepared for the celestial event of the season. Join us as we gear up for the solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, and witness the cosmic dance in the sky. 

Don’t miss this stellar experience!

About First Fridays

Spark your curiosity while exploring the exhibits after hours! First Fridays bring together a myriad of activities covering everyday science, historical oddities, and everything in between. Grab your friends, and kick off an evening of discovery, surprise, and a little nerdy fun.

First Fridays at the Institute are always free and open to the public. Attendees will receive a 10% discount to National Mechanics restaurant.


Featured image: Lockyer’s telespectroscope, from Heinrich Schellen, Spectrum Analysis in its Application to Terrestrial Substances, and the Physical Constitution of the Heavenly Bodies, 1872.

More events

frontispiece plate of illustrations of the blood spectra
February 24, 2024
For Families

Stories of Science

Join us in our museum EVERY SATURDAY for a family-friendly program that highlights strange and surprising stories from the history of science!

woman in apron dyeing cloth in a basin
February 24, 2024
Free

Dyes & Textiles Tour

This “drop-in” tour highlights the science of natural dyes and textiles, the technology behind synthetic clothing, and the impact of fashion on human health and the environment.

Collage illustration showing clip of Systema Naturae by Carl Linnaeus, botanical illustration, crop of a cave.
February 27, 2024
Classes & Workshops

How Science Invented the Myth of Race: Origin Stories

In the first session of this five-part Roundtable course, we trace the origins of race science to the Enlightenment in Europe.

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