First Fridays at the St. Louis Science Center

science-center-planetarium-outside2.jpg
Photo by Deborah O'Brien

The St. Louis Science Center is a familiar destination for many families in the St. Louis area. It is, after all, one of the top free attractions in St. Louis. Each day, visitors come to explore the hundreds of hands-on exhibits and experiments. Another good time to visit is during First Fridays, a monthly free event offering telescope viewing, OMNIMAX movies, special exhibits and more.

When and Where:

As the name would indicate, First Fridays are held on the first Friday of each month starting at 6 p.m. Each month focuses on a different scientific theme such as robots, genetics, Star Wars, dinosaurs or zombies. Some First Friday events are held in the main building, while others take place at the planetarium. Parking at both Science Center lots is free during First Fridays.

Star Party:

Each First Friday event features a star party at the planetarium. The St. Louis Astronomical Society sets up telescopes outside (weather permitting) for public viewing. The viewing time varies each month depending on when it gets dark. Viewing in November and December can begin as early as 5:30 p.m. In June and July, it typically starts around 8:30 p.m.

Each star party also includes a free presentation of "The Sky Tonight" at 7 p.m., in the planetarium's Orthwein StarBay. The 45 minute show explains constellations, planets, moon phases and other astronomical events that are currently visible in the night sky.

OMNIMAX Movies:

The Science Center's OMNIMAX Theater is also open on First Fridays with discounted ticket prices of $6 a person ($5 for college students with a valid ID). The theater's current documentaries are shown at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. There is also a special free movie at 10 p.m. The free movies are popular theatrical releases like Back to the Future, Star Wars and X-Men. Tickets for the free movie are given out on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 6 p.m at any ticket counter. Each person can get up to four tickets.

Exhibits and Lectures:

During First Fridays, the Science Center's main building has special exhibits, experiments and lectures based on the theme for the month. Scientists may show off their latest robots, explain how DNA works or talk about the science behind the Star Wars movies. There are also food and drink specials in the cafe.

More About the Science Center:

If you can't make for First Fridays, there are many other reasons to visit the Science Center any day of the week. There are more than 700 exhibits including life-sized, animated models of a T-Rex and Triceratops, a fossil lab and exhibits on ecology and the environment. There's also a special play area called the Discovery Room for small children. For more information on what to see and do, check out the Science Center website.