Mars Attracts

It's as close as Chabot

FRI 7/4

Mars means a lot of different things to different people. It’s the Red Planet, the locale for numerous science-fiction fantasies, a beacon of possibilities that has sparked our imaginations since the Egyptians first singled it out in the sky. If your child is especially intrigued by Mars, you’re destined to spend some time at the Chabot Space and Science Center this summer. Starting this month, the planet will approach closer and closer to Earth, and by August 28 it will be the closest it’s been in 15,000 years. Chabot will have telescope viewings — you’ll be able to distinguish surface features on the planet — and starting this week, it hosts a wide range of activities billed as The Summer of Mars. The Mars Encounter Exhibit, opening July 4, features a four-foot tactile Mars globe, complete with craters and volcanoes; a Martian meteorite; a Mar-tian sci-fi theater; a Mars Mission Control with data on current and past missions; videos of Rover missions; a wall-size mural with quiz games; a virtual vacation on Mars; and a play area for little kids that includes a photo op with a Martian. The exhibit will be continually updated as additional research and exploration takes place. Also opening July 4 is a new planetarium show which explores the idea of life on Mars, and shows the latest images from telescopes, orbiters, and rovers. Films such as War of the Worlds and Mars Attacks! screen in the Tien MegaDome Theater, and all summer long you can hear lectures on such topics as “Water and the Martian Landscape,” “The History and Future of Mars Exploration,” “Martians Invade Hollywood,” “Mars: The Search for Life on the Red Planet,” and “Travelers’ Guide to Mars.” Chabot has the optimum view of the planet, which will brighten in the sky through July, appear to grow larger as the summer continues, and move toward opposition on August 28 (watch also for the full moon-marred Perseid meteor shower on the evening of August 12). A Mars Viewing Party on the evening of August 26 includes a planetarium show, hands-on activities, and telescope viewing. Chabot Space and Science Center is at 10000 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland. For more information, call 510-336-7300 or log on to — Sarah Cahill


Mellow Marsh

Shoe things

There are 817 acres of the Hayward Regional Shoreline, comprising marshes, mudflats, sloughs, former landfills, and rocky coast. The Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center , at the south end of that shoreline near Highway 92, offers kids and adults the chance to discover what those acres hold, for free. This Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the whole family can enjoy a 4th of July Touch Table, including crabs, polychaetes (a kind of worm), and other denizens of the marsh. Then, from 1 till 3 p.m., enjoy Glory Games, activities for kids of all ages. On Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m., children six and older can meet the shoreline’s seasonal guest, the barn swallow. Kids can hold a nest and eggs and then make their own edible barn-swallow nest. 510-670-7270. — Stefanie Kalem


Beyond Books

The Oakland Public Library system has special events and programs going on all summer long at every branch in town. This week, you can do Harry Potter-themed crafts with the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse (Wednesday, 2 p.m., at the Asian branch), chill with the animals at Zooniversity (Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Golden Gate branch), see a capoeira Angola demonstration, with live music (Saturday, 11 a.m., Asian branch), and enjoy Bonnie Lockhart’s songs and music games from around the world (Tuesday, 7 p.m., Dimond branch). Visit or call 510-238-3134 for complete schedule and details. — Stefanie Kalem

TUE 7/8

Toon and Goon

Don’t let the kids sit around the house all summer watching cartoons — send them to the Summer Movie Clubhouse and let them sit around watching cartoons in a movie theater instead. That’s right, the CineMark Blackhawk 7 (4175 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville) is having a Tuesday morning kiddie-film series. Next Tuesday’s entry is Hey Arnold! The Movie, a 2002 animated feature from Nickelodeon about a kid with a large flat head who organizes his hometown to stop an unscrupulous developer from building a giant mall. Hmm. Showtime is 9:30 a.m. and it only costs $1. Popcorn and candy, alas, are another proposition entirely. — Kelly Vance

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