A constellation photo with title: Space Fest 2020

Space Fest 2020 NEWS

The Bell Museum’s Second Annual Space Fest weekend is Jan. 31 - Feb. 2

The Bell Museum’s Second Annual Space Fest weekend is Jan. 31 – Feb. 2

This year’s event highlights women in space science; offerings include planetarium shows, telescope viewing, art exhibit, guest presenters and more


The Bell Museum’s Second Annual Space Fest weekend is Jan. 31 – Feb. 2

This year’s event highlights women in space science; offerings include planetarium shows, telescope viewing, art exhibit, guest presenters and more

SAINT PAUL, Minn. (Jan. 23, 2020) – The Bell Museum, Minnesota’s official natural history museum, will host its second annual Space Fest weekend Feb. 1-2, plus a “Star Party” to kick off the weekend on Jan. 31. This year’s Space Fest highlights women in space scienceand their contributions to the field. The weekend will be full of special exhibits, presentations, fun activities, and more, as follows:

Jan. 31 from 7:30-9 p.m.: Space Fest weekend kicks off with a Friday night Star Party. Admission is free ($5 donation optional) but registration is required: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/january-star-party-registration-83902728319. The museum’s galleries are not open during Star Party. Activities include:

  • Planetarium presentations: Winter Sky Tonight presentations inside the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium at 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Guided telescope viewing: Weather permitting, University of Minnesota student staff members will set up four powerful telescopes (reflectors with 9.25 to 10-inch diameters) on the Ruth & John Huss Observation Deck and guide participants in observing the night sky. A wide range of eyepieces are also available for different magnifications.
  • Hands-on activities: In Horizon Hall, Bell staff will guide visitors through some of the big questions being explored in astronomy today.

Feb. 1-2 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.: The following offerings are included with regular museum and planetarium admission fees:

  • Katherine Johnson and Beyond: Celebrating Women in Space Science: Hidden Figures, the best-selling book and movie, gave name and voice to the African American women who worked as “human computers” in the space program and inspired new efforts to shine light on the extraordinary, but often overlooked, work of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Katherine Johnson and Beyond is an excerpt of bold, colorful graphic art portraits from Beyond Curie, an exhibition celebrating 40 inspiring women in STEM. Select pieces include interactive augmented reality components accessible via a free “Beyond Curie” app. Looping video footage of the first all-female spacewalk also will be located near the installation.
  • Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium shows: Two shows will run in alternating time slots every 45 mins starting at 10:30 a.m.:
    • Minnesota Night Sky – a live tour of the night sky, showcasing the planets, stars, and seasonal constellations currently visible from Minnesota.
    • Einstein’s Gravity Playlist – an exploration of how gravitational waves are formed, how they move through the universe, and how scientists work to hear them
  • Guest Presentations: Local and national experts will present on current space research throughout the weekend:
    • Students from the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering will share their Small Satellite Lab work and Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics The team’s SOCRATES small satellite took a rocket trip to the International Space Station in November and will be released into Earth’s orbit in January – the first small satellite built by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to go into space.
    • NASA Solar System Ambassadors will share recent discoveries in space science and upcoming milestones for NASA missions.
    • Staci Tiedeken,a University of Minnesota alum (B.S. in astrophysics) and current outreach coordinator from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and international partnership coordinator for International Observe the Moon Night, will discuss her career path and the exciting research that’s going on in the Solar System Exploration Division. Ever wonder what a piece of the Moon looks like or how a near-Earth asteroid feels? Visit Staci to learn about these items and more.
    • Mike Shaw, a 2019-20 Bell resident artist and award-winning astrophotographer, author and speaker, will present on how to virtually experience the Minnesota skies.
    • Annette Lee of Native Skywatchers Lee is an astrophysicist, artist and the director of the Native Skywatchers research and programming initiative, with over 28 years of experience in education as a teacher, university instructor, teacher educator, program administrator, professional visual artist, and researcher. Designed by Lee, the NSW initiative seeks to remember and revitalize indigenous star and earth knowledge.
    • Actors from Theater Pro Rata’s the upcoming Silent Skyproduction (based on the life of early 1900s astronomical researcher Henrietta Leavitt) at the Bell will mingle with guests, providing historical perspective on women in space research.
  • Hands-on classroom science and engineering activities: Bell staff will lead fun hands-on activities and crafts, including: build your own lander, experiment withpaper rockets, train like an astronaut, create a pocket-sized solar system, and explore motion and expansion in our universe.

“Space Fest was a huge hit last year and a major part of the Bell Museum’s mission to serve as Minnesota’s astronomy classroom. This family-fun event is a perfect way to showcase our spectacular planetarium and the many University of Minnesota students and scientists, local experts, and national researchers who passionately explore the cosmos,” said Holly Meinenger Ph.D., the Bell’s director of public engagement & science learning.

The Bell’s Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium debuted in July 2018 when the museum celebrated its grand re-opening at its new location in St. Paul. Previously, the Twin Cities metro area had been without a public planetarium of this scale since the Minneapolis Planetarium closed in 2002. The planetarium’s state-of-the-art design and technology places among the top national planetarium presenters and a leader in accessible planetarium shows. The Bell also spearheads a network of 10 regional planetarium located throughout Minnesota, as well as North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

For more information about Space Fest, visit https://www.bellmuseum.umn.edu/event/space-fest-2020/.


About Bell Museum

The Bell Museum is Minnesota’s official natural history museum, established by the state’s legislature in 1872 and held in trust by the University of Minnesota. For over a century, the museum has preserved and interpreted the state’s rich natural history and served learners of all ages. Additionally, its scientific collections contain over a million specimens, representing every county in Minnesota and various locales around the globe. Located on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus, the museum features a state-of-the art digital planetarium, high-tech exhibits, famous wildlife dioramas, outdoor learning experiences and more. The Bell’s University of Minnesota organizational home is within the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, which comprises 13 academic departments and 10 research and outreach centers, along with the Bell Museum, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and dozens of interdisciplinary centers. For more information, visit bellmuseum-staging.smx6mahh-liquidwebsites.com/