Pasadena for the Space Lover

July 15, 2019 | Posted in Things To Do

Our solar system is a complex and mysterious place. Despite centuries of research, there is so much left to be discovered.

Luckily, Pasadena, with its close ties to NASA JPL and the Planetary Society, is the ideal hub for aerospace innovation and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). And every rocket launch puts us one step closer to understanding the universe around us. From NASA JPL to Caltech, the Planetary Society to Carnegie Observatories, the innovative spirit in Pasadena continues to thrive.

Mount Wilson Observatory

Mount Wilson is located in the mountains to the north of Pasadena. The observatory is free and open to individuals with all interest levels, from real-life astronauts to astronomy lovers. View the historic Hooker telescope from the Visitors' Gallery inside the dome or take a self-guided tour. For those interested in a guided tour to learn even more fun facts or to gain access to "telescope floor," which features multiple solar astronomer scopes, tickets are $15 (adults) and $13 (ages 12 and under and 62 and older). Tour tickets are available for same-day purchase at the Cosmic Café.

When it comes to space exploration, Pasadena is a great place for space enthusiasts and innovative engineers to gather to share ideas. A favorite activity for many is to attend a meetup hosted by Innovate Pasadena. The meetups occur at various STEAM locations in Pasadena and are open to the public, free of charge. Discussions include subjects like robotics, 3D printing, UX, AI, VR, and aerospace engineering, design, and strategy.

Planetary Society Public Events

Just a few steps from the official Pasadena visitors center, the Planetary Society is probably best known for its association with beloved science guy, Bill Nye. (Fun fact, he was featured in a few Pasadena commercial spots.) Not only does the Planetary Society contribute to space exploration, they also provide archives of the historical missions that are free for the public to view. And on special occasions, the society will open its doors to the public to participate in exclusive tours.

JPL Public Tours

Being so closely linked with NASA, and a leader in robotic exploration of the solar system, Jet Propulsion Laboratory is one experience not to be missed. The JPL Public Services Office offers free educational group tours, public group tours, and individual tours, but reservations must be made in advance, and can sell out months beforehand. Proper identification and security clearance will be required for those interested in attending. Tour details.

Caltech Public Tours

The California Institute of Technology, more commonly referred to as "Caltech," has nurtered some of America's greatest minds, with famous alumni that include 17 Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Caltech manages JPL and is a breeding ground of innovation. Caltech's campus is bursting with new ideas and research. For aspiring scientists and prospective students, tours are available Monday through Fridays. Visitor permits are required.

Carnegie Observatories

In addition to its stargazing opportunities, Carnegie Observatories is an institution dedicated to enabling scientists to pursue their ideas. They offer research talks and educational events for astronomers and enthusiasts to explore the galaxy, understand its evolution, and view a variety of stellar nebulas and novas. Their website is also full of industry-related news for those who want to stay up to date on the latest discoveries.