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Expos and open houses

10th Annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall

About this event


The Astronomy Festival on the National Mall (AFNM) is a free public festival that will feature solar, optical, and radio telescope observations; hands-on activities, demonstrations, hand-outs, posters, banners, and videos; a planetarium show under a 25-foot blow-up dome, and a chance to mingle with astronomers. This year the AFNM will be presented in association with the Smithsonian Solstice Saturday events. The National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Museums will be open until midnight featuring free parties, programs, and performances. The event will be held near the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall (1200 Jefferson Dr SW). When taking Metrorail, get off at the Smithsonian stop (Mall exit).

Come celebrate the Summer Solstice with telescope views of the Sun, Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn at the largest annual astronomy outreach event in the US.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) staff will meet with you and answer questions about U.S. Astronomy research.

The NSF's National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) will present views of the radio sky.

The NSF's National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) will summarize their latest discoveries.


The Milky Way Galaxy Craft: Where are we in the Galaxy?

At AFNM, NSF will have a craft for kids to show where we are in the Galaxy. The craft shows two prominent spiral arms of the Milky Way. The kids will build a simple electral circuit that highlights the position of our solar system relative to the center of the Milky Way.

You can make your own Milky Way Circuit Craft at home!

  1. Print the Milky Way on card stock (preferably on legal size - 8.5"x14", but regular 8.5"x11" is OK).
  2. Find gold-colored Copper foil tape, 1/4 inch wide, with double-sided conductivity. Cut about 15 inches of this tape. The tape is available at on-line stores.
  3. Find two Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) in two different colors (same color is OK). These LEDs should include internal resistors.
  4. Find one CR2032 Li-ion cell battery about 1 inch in diameter, +3V.
  5. Find one inch of black electrical tape, 3/4 inch wide.
  6. Follow the instructions on the front of the card.
  7. Push the battery down onto the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way; LEDs will light.
  8. Discover where you are in the Milky Way!