Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Annual Open House


Why You Should Go, and other Star Gazing Tips

During October 7-8, 2014 there will be a full eclipse of a Blood Moon which, given that it is only visible before sunrise for an hour, will most likely be something that we all see on the evening television (or Facebook). However, sky watchers abound in Southern California; in fact, some of the best in the world spend their time at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and this weekend the beloved, annual JPL Open House takes place. (It didn’t take place last year, because of sequestration, so this year will be even more popular than usual).


Here’s why you should go: You will look down on a room like this one, where strangely covered scientists are working with huge robotics, such as the one depicted here in the “clean room” where the Mars Rover was constructed. You’ll see a mission control room that shows scientists tracking all the world’s satellites as they cruise around the globe (and go dark when they’re on the other side). You’ll also see lots of very excited kids and their families who are all as gaga as we were to be allowed inside such a cool place.

Even if you don’t think you will ever be good at or understand science, this place will make your jaw drop. The United States robotic missions to space are primarily right here in our So Cal backyard — NASA satellites are tracked, the Mars Rover was created and manned, and dozens of scientific and humanitarian missions are launched, monitored, and scrutinized. The depth of knowledge and range of it’s application – from climate change issues to health concerns – impresses visitors in an indelible manner.

All weekend long, Saturday and Sunday October 11 and 12, 2014, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory throws open its doors to the public for a glimpse inside the fabulous center of the space and technology world.  From 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, visitors can roam the hallowed halls, exploring this year’s theme of “Welcome to Our Universe”.

Highlights include a life-size model of Mars Science Laboratory, demonstrations from numerous space missions; JPL’s machine shop, where robotic spacecraft parts are built; and the Microdevices Lab, where engineers and scientists use tiny technology to revolutionize space exploration.

The Earth Science Center will show 3-D videos of our home planet and JPL’s Earth science missions. Upon entering, visitors will pass an Earth globe with data from NASA’s Earth-orbiting satellites projected onto the sphere.


Admission is FREE, and reservations are not required.  However, this is a hugely popular event, year after year. Last year, it was canceled due to the budgetary sequestration, so we gauge that this year’s Open House will be even more busy than usual.  Click for parking and other details.


A person could lose themselves entirely exploring the newly revamped JPL website, which provides vast information about space, the environment and climate change, robotics and much, much more!

Our favorite app for stargazing, btw, is: SKYGUIDE