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Cool Summer Nights
Open till 10:00 p.m. Saturday
May 18 - August 31, 2019

Regular Admission Rates Apply

The Desert Museum is lovely during the day, but it’s even cooler after dark! Join us every Saturday night through August 31 to beat the summer heat while learning something neat! The desert comes alive at night as nocturnal animals awake. Bats perform aerial acrobatics in pursuit of dinner, beavers splash around in their pond, and scorpions glow green under black light. Bring your flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, feel the touch of a stingray, or participate in special nightly activities. See the schedule below for weekly themes.

Dining options

The Mountain House Gift Shop (near the entrance) is open until 10:00 p.m., and the Ironwood Gift Shop (near the restaurant complex) is open until 9:30 p.m.

Skip the Line

Pro tip: On Cool Summer Nights, Packrat Playhouse can reach capacity quickly! We suggest that you head there first and sign up for a time slot to guarantee your playtime.

Pro tip: Arrive early for the best parking!

Some exhibits close early for safety reasons or so that the animals can rest. The Walk-in Aviary, Hummingbird Aviary, Desert Loop Trail (coyote, javelina), Botanical Gardens, Bee Exhibit, People & Pollinators, and the Labyrinth Garden close at the following seasonal times:

Mother and child in pushchair, walking the grounds

Weekly Themes & Activity Schedule

Activity schedules subject to additions and changes — check back often for the latest updates!

(See only upcoming Saturday schedules)

May 18 — Creatures of the Night

The Sonoran Desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark at Creatures of the Night! Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, enjoy a Desert Survivors show, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Feathers - Solo Exhibition by Chris Maynard
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Feather masterpiece! Feathers is a solo show featuring Chris Maynard who uses surgical tools to carve the feathers while striving to respect their form. He sets them apart from the background so their shapes are enhanced as they cast shadows. Chris will be in the Gallery from 6:00 p.m. to chat with guests, and at 7:00 p.m. he will give a Gallery talk.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Desert Survivors
(two 30-minute presentations)
Desert animals don’t just survive — they thrive! Active and interested, our furry, scaled, and winged friends beat the heat by coming out after dark. Join our educators and meet some nocturnal creatures in Desert Survivors.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

May 25 — Astronomy Night

There is nothing more magical than staring at the stars at the Desert Museum! Join experts from National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), Tucson Amateur Astronomers, the University of Arizona, and the Desert Museum for a star-studded evening. Build your own solar system, stargaze, enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, learn 20 common astronomy fallacies with Dr. Kevin Hainline, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Feathers - Solo Exhibition by Chris Maynard
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Feather masterpiece! Feathers is a solo show featuring Chris Maynard who uses surgical tools to carve the feathers while striving to respect their form. He sets them apart from the background so their shapes are enhanced as they cast shadows.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. NOAO Kitt Peak Activities
Enjoy interactive and educational solar system activities from National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) Kitt Peak. Great for families!
7:15 - 9:30 p.m. Telescope Stations
Stargaze through high-powered telescopes and marvel at the wonders of the night sky. (Activity contingent on weather conditions.)
7:30 p.m. I Thought I Knew That: 20 (Very!) Common Astronomy Fallacies
Everyone knows why we have the seasons, or why the moon has phases, or what the name of the brightest star is… right? In this talk, University of Arizona Astronomer Dr. Kevin Hainline will explore how we create scientific understanding in our heads by confronting 20 common astronomy misconceptions. Come and learn about asteroids, shooting stars, black holes, floating astronauts and solar eclipses.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

June 1 — Dino Night

Have you heard that the Sonorasaurus is officially Arizona's state dinosaur? Thanks to an 11-year-old boy's persuasive argument (Jax Weldon), the Sonorasaurus joined other official Arizona state symbols. Based on the fossils, it is estimated that the dino was about 50 feet long and weighed 4,000 pounds. The fossils are on display tonight in the “Cave” and at discovery stations in Taylor Plaza. Bring your flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander, learn all about dinosaurs from Richard Thompson, PhD, and the UA Department of Geosciences, experience live animal encounters, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, see and touch real dino bones (one night only!), feel the touch of a stingray, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Feathers - Solo Exhibition by Chris Maynard
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Feather masterpiece! Feathers is a solo show featuring Chris Maynard who uses surgical tools to carve the feathers while striving to respect their form. He sets them apart from the background so their shapes are enhanced as they cast shadows.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Thought You Knew Dinos? Think Again!
Ever wonder how strong a T. rex could bite and how fast it could run? Join Desert Museum and UA Department of Geosciences staff for answers to all your dino-related questions! 3-D computer models, miniature dinosaur replicas, and real dinosaur bones will be on display in the Mineral Hall (one night only!)
7:30 - 8:45 p.m. What's New in Dinosaur Science? - Richard Thompson, PhD
Dinosaurs are always getting a makeover as we learn more about their behavior and natural history. Learn what’s new with dinosaurs, with a special focus on what we’ve learned about Arizona’s official state Dinosaur, Sonorasaurus thompsonii. Enjoy hands-on displays from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. and listen to a fascinating presentation on dinos, starting at 8:00 p.m.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

June 8 — World Oceans Night

Water is one of the most precious resources in the Sonoran Desert, which includes the Gulf of California - also known as the Sea of Cortez. Help us celebrate the big blue and snack on free sustainable seafood tastings from Fini’s Landing, Cup Café, Hotel Congress and the Desert Museum’s own Craft Culinary Concepts. Enjoy kid-friendly activities from Marine Awareness and Conservation Society and the Fin Foundation and watch fascinating presentations from our Interpretative Animal Collection staff, and Joellen Russell from the University of Arizona on our incredible oceans. Please wear blue in support of World Oceans Night!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Feathers - Solo Exhibition by Chris Maynard
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Feather masterpiece! Feathers is a solo show featuring Chris Maynard who uses surgical tools to carve the feathers while striving to respect their form. He sets them apart from the background so their shapes are enhanced as they cast shadows.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fishy Fun Family Activities
Visit some of our local fin-tastic ocean conservation community partners to learn how you can protect the world’s oceans.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Free Sustainable Seafood Tastings
Local restaurants demonstrate how delicious conservation can be with sustainably harvested seafood tastings.
6:30 - 7:00 Desert Animals, Ocean Animals… Not So Different After All!
A family fun, live animal presentation comparing how ocean animals and our Sonoran Desert animals are not as different as they may seem.
7:15 - 8:00 p.m. The Shark Guy — Our Amazing Oceans
Celebrate with this fun and informative presentation which focuses on animal diversity in our oceans.
8:15 - 8:45 p.m. Climate and the Deep Blue Sea
Our ocean is changing fast! Come see how we measure the changes in our oceans and work to keep them healthy!
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

June 15 — Pollinator Party!

Pollinator Party graphic

Help us celebrate National Pollinator Week by honoring the precious pollinators that help our desert ecosystem thrive! The week (June 17-23) celebrates bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, and more. Docents will help you see and hear night-blooming plants and night pollinators (such as bats and moths) that do their important work in the dark of night. Enjoy honey samples from local beekeepers, Three Little Bees, jam out with Mr. Nature’s Music Garden, pot your own plant, participate in our second annual Spelling Bee, learn the Science Behind Bees with our very own Dr. Kim Franklin, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Feathers - Solo Exhibition by Chris Maynard
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Feather masterpiece! Feathers is a solo show featuring Chris Maynard who uses surgical tools to carve the feathers while striving to respect their form. He sets them apart from the background so their shapes are enhanced as they cast shadows.
5:30 - 6:00 p.m. and 7:15 - 7:45 p.m. Mr. Nature's Music Garden
Kindness, compassion and mindfulness engagement through desert-critters and pollinator themed song, dance and interactive music fun for the whole family!
6:15 - 7:00 p.m. Spelling Bee
Have you heard the buzz? The Desert Museum is hosting the second Cool Summer Nights spelling bee! We are looking for children (8-10 years old) to participate in this unBEElievable contest. To study, use this guide! To sign up, please email Lauren Belcher at lbelcher@desertmuseum.org.
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Meet Community Partners
‘Bee’ sure to stop by the Desert Garden and meet with community pollinator partners Three Little Bees, Dos Manos Apiaries and the Southwest Monarch Study! Our Junior Docents will also be there providing a fun pollinator activity!
6:30 - 7:30 p.m. The String Ambassadors - Youth Orchestra
Enjoy the melodic harmonies of the String Ambassadors! The musical group is class is for highly motivated 7th-12th grade students who don't mind having a busy performing schedule. String Ambassadors have performed in California and Arizona, but mostly in the Yuma area to promote the Yuma String programs. Currently, the Senior String Ambassadors has 20 players who attend various schools in the Yuma area.
7:15 - 9:00 p.m. Pot Your Own Plant
Pollinators like all types of plants, including succulents! Come view a spectacular array of succulents and pot your own plants! Cost: $7, proceeds go towards the Desert Museum.
*Limited quantity of 50 plants & pots, so make sure to get here early!
8:00 - 8:45 p.m. Meet the Wild Bees of the Sonoran Desert!
Did you know that the Sonoran Desert is hotspot of bee diversity, with over 700 species? Can you name just one of these species, aside from the honey bee? Join Kim Franklin, Desert Museum Research Scientist, on a photo tour of this incredible bee diversity, from the world’s smallest bee, Perdita minima, to our gentle giants, the carpenter bees. These wild bees differ from the honey bee, a domesticated species, in almost every way imaginable. Moreover, wild bees play a critical role in our desert ecosystem, so come learn about these gorgeous bees in a photo-filled talk and how each one of us can take part in ensuring their survival!
Throughout the Night: Where the Wild Pollinators Are!
Docents will help you see and hear night blooming plants and night pollinators, such as bats and moths, that do their important work in the dark of night. Look for docent stations around the grounds.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

June 22 — Astronomy Night

Astronomy graphic

There is nothing more magical than staring at the stars at the Desert Museum! Join experts from Tucson Amateur Astronomers, Astronomy Adventures Arizona, the University of Arizona, and the Desert Museum for a star-studded evening. Build your own solar system, stargaze, enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, learn 20 common astronomy fallacies with Dr. Kevin Hainline, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Feathers - Solo Exhibition by Chris Maynard
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Feather masterpiece! Feathers is a solo show featuring Chris Maynard who uses surgical tools to carve the feathers while striving to respect their form. He sets them apart from the background so their shapes are enhanced as they cast shadows.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Astronomy Activities
Enjoy interactive and educational solar system activities. Great for families!
7:30 - 9:30 p.m. Telescope Stations
Stargaze through high-powered telescopes and marvel at the wonders of the night sky. (Activity contingent on weather conditions.)
7:30 p.m. I Thought I Knew That: 20 (Very!) Common Astronomy Fallacies
Everyone knows why we have the seasons, or why the moon has phases, or what the name of the brightest star is… right? In this talk, University of Arizona Astronomer Dr. Kevin Hainline will explore how we create scientific understanding in our heads by confronting 20 common astronomy misconceptions. Come and learn about asteroids, shooting stars, black holes, floating astronauts and solar eclipses.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

Community Partners

TAAA Astronomy Adventures Arizona

June 29 — Creatures of the Night

The Sonoran Desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark at Creatures of the Night! Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, enjoy a Desert Survivors show, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Feathers - Solo Exhibition by Chris Maynard
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Feather masterpiece! Feathers is a solo show featuring Chris Maynard who uses surgical tools to carve the feathers while striving to respect their form. He sets them apart from the background so their shapes are enhanced as they cast shadows.
5:30 - 6:00 p.m. Meet & Greet with Dusty the Roadrunner Mascot
Grab your picture with our special creature of the night, Dusty the Roadrunner!
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Flute Players
Relax, cool off, and sample the soothing sounds of Native-American inspired flute music.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Desert Survivors
(two 30-minute presentations)
Desert animals don’t just survive — they thrive! Active and interested, our furry, scaled, and winged friends beat the heat by coming out after dark. Join our educators and meet some nocturnal creatures in Desert Survivors.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

July 6 — Creatures of the Night

The Sonoran Desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark at Creatures of the Night! Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, learn all about the endangered Vaquita, engage with our animals, enjoy a Desert Survivors show, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Feathers - Solo Exhibition by Chris Maynard
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Feather masterpiece! Feathers is a solo show featuring Chris Maynard who uses surgical tools to carve the feathers while striving to respect their form. He sets them apart from the background so their shapes are enhanced as they cast shadows. At 6:00 p.m. Chris will be giving a closing lecture.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Viva Vaquita with Noemi Celani
Did you know that the most endangered marine mammal lives in the Sonoran Desert? The vaquita marina, a small porpoise, lives only in the northern Gulf of California and needs our help as there are about 5-22 left! Celebrate International Save the Vaquita Day while learning what you can do to help save this mesmerizing mammal.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Desert Survivors
(two 30-minute presentations)
Desert animals don’t just survive — they thrive! Active and interested, our furry, scaled, and winged friends beat the heat by coming out after dark. Join our educators and meet some nocturnal creatures in Desert Survivors.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

July 13 — Creatures of the Night

The Sonoran Desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark at Creatures of the Night! Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, enjoy a Live and (sort of) on the Loose show, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Flute Players
Relax, cool off, and sample the soothing sounds of Native-American inspired flute music.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Live and (sort of) on the Loose
(two 45-minute presentations)
Join staff members from the Herpetology Department for a live animal presentation featuring venomous reptiles of the Sonoran Desert Region.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

July 20 — Explore Outdoors!

Explore outdoors graphic

Summer nights are always a great time to discover desert wonders. But we need to be prepared for summer conditions in southern Arizona. Learn more from our partners: Sky Island Alliance, Coronado Outdoors, Arizona Conservation Corps, Conservation Legacy, Nothern Jaguar Project, Cooper Center, and University of Arizona Skin Cancer Institute. Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, enjoy presentations from Ralph Wetmore, the University of Arizona's Lunar & Planetary Lab, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:30 p.m. Desert Electric — Lightning Photography
(one 45-minute presentation)
Ralph Wetmore has spent over 40 years chasing and photographing lightning. His presentation will focus on our incredible Arizona storms — the beauty, thrills and the dangers.
8:00 p.m. Celebrating 50 years: Apollo 11 Moon Landing
What it's Like to Send a NASA Mission to the Moon, and Where to Go If You Did
(one 45-minute presentation)

Amanda Stadermann is a geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in the University of Arizona. She investigates geologic processes on the Moon using multiple techniques, from atomic to kilometer scales. In particular, she likes igneous rocks and impact cratering, and she investigates these with data from a satellite orbiting the Moon and by looking at Apollo samples.

Tonight she will talk about the top places to send a spacecraft to the Moon's surface, and why they're so important to scientists. Then she will take a dive into one particular potential mission, Moon Diver, that will investigate a lava tube skylight.

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Ideas to Explore Outdoors
Visit some of our local outdoor conservation community partners to learn fun and educational ways you can explore outdoors.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

Community Partners

Coronado Outdoors Conservation Legacy Arizona Conservation Corps Northern Jaguar Project Sky Island Alliance Cooper Center University of Arizona Skin Cancer Institute UA LPL

Interested in Learning More?

University of Arizona Moonfest

Check out Moonfest, the UA’s collection of events and exhibits to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!


July 27 — Insect Insanity

Insect Insanity graphic

The Sonoran Desert is a major hot spot for insect diversity! Join the Desert Museum for Insect Insanity to celebrate interesting insects and amazing arthropods! Take selfies with moths and butterflies, try a cricket infused treat, craft your own antennae, get up close and personal with our favorite insects, and learn from the "Beetlelady" why bugs are for everyone! Don't forget to scamper over to Packrat Playhouse to enjoy insect-themed art activities!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Boogie with the Bugs!
Craft your own antennae, take selfies with moths, beetles, and butterflies, and enjoy cricket-infused treats. Learn more about the beautiful world of bugs from Desert Museum staff and volunteers, as well as educators from the University of Arizona.
8:00 p.m. Cool Summer Nights, Hot Summer Bugs, Make Some Noise!
Bugs are captivating, engaging, and accessible, Beetlelady (Dr. Stephanie Dole) educates people of all ages about science and nature through hands-on learning with bugs. This program will explore the marvelous array of sounds insects make. Learn how insects produce some of the loudest animals sounds without the use of lungs or vocal cords. Dr. Dole will then tell tales of how entomologists explore the world searching for undiscovered insect species and her own time uncovering beetle diversity in the Amazon rainforest.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

August 3 — Harry Otter Night

Harry Otter graphic

Calling all witches and wizards! Grab your favorite broom and fly into the Desert Museum for our first Harry Otter Night! Looking for fantastic beasts? This is where to find them! Meet live owls, snakes, salamanders, tarantulas, and more! Dust off your finest robes and house colors so you can win the Kiddo's Costume Contest! Professors will be there to sort you into your house while Bookmans will help you craft your very own wand (while supplies last)! Looking to ace Herbology next year? EcoGro will tell you all about magical and mystical plants. You can even pot your own! Enjoy story time, stargazing, potions, a scavenger hunt, and more! We will also have a pensieve to peer into so you can relive memories at the Desert Museum! The first 50 kids at the gate will receive their very own pair of Harry Potter glasses! Invisibility cloaks will be checked at the door.

Please note: Masks and fully painted faces are strictly prohibited. For child safety, adults may only wear themed apparel, or limited costume pieces.

Harry Otter Night is not endorsed, sanctioned or in any other way supported directly or indirectly by Warner Bros. Entertainment, the Harry Potter book publishers, or J.K. Rowling and her representatives. HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks and © Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Harry Potter publishing Rights © JKR.

5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Get Your Own Lightning Scar!
5:30 p.m. Quidditch Cup Begins at Otter Exhibit (Animal Enrichment)
6:00 - 6:30 p.m. Story Time with Professor S.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Meet & Greet with Owls
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Photobooth
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stargazing
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fantastic Beasts Scavenger Hunt and Wizard Photo Op
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Create Your Own Acceptance Letter
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Make Your Own Wand & Trivia with Bookmans
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Pot A Plant ($4-$10) with EcoGro
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Peer into the Pensieve
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Facepainting ($3 per design)
6:30 p.m. Quidditch Cup Champion is Revealed at Lower Otter Exhibit (Animal Enrichment)
6:30 - 9:00 p.m. Sorting Hat with Professor S.
6:45 - 7:15 p.m. Kiddo's Costume Contest
7:00 p.m. Flying Lessons at Mountain Lion Exhibit and House Sorting at Black Bear Exhibit (Animal Enrichment)
7:15 - 8:00 p.m. Care of Magical Creatures Class
7:30 - 8:30 p.m. Meet & Greet with a snake, tarantula, salamander, scorpion
7:30 - 9:30 p.m. Light and Illusions with Brain STEM
8:00 p.m. House Sorting at Ocelot Exhibit, Great Hall at Grey Fox Exhibit and Restricted Section of the Library at Bobcat Exhibit (Animal Enrichment)

Magical Gift Basket

To celebrate the love of reading and witches and wizards, we are doing a magical gift basket raffle! Tickets are $5 for 3. The basket is valued at more than $160. You can purchase the tickets online or at the event at Stingray Touch. Even if you don’t win, each ticket supports the mystical creatures in our care! Winner will be notified after the event and pickup will be arranged.

Picture of basket with items in it
  • Your very own wand
  • Forbidden Forest puzzle (300 pieces)
  • $50 Bookmans gift certificate
  • Ron Weasley Funko Pop Figurine
  • Snitch Keychain
  • Harry Potter Playing Card
  • Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone Soundtrack (CD)
  • Tales of Beetle the Bard Book
  • Conversations with JK Rowling Book
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Original Screenplay Book
  • Hogwarts classic books includes Quidditch through the Ages and the Tales of Beetle the Bard
  • Two Harry Potter themed notebooks
  • Basket included
5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

Community Partners

Eco Gro Brain STEM Arizona Bookmans

August 10 — Creatures of the Night

The Sonoran Desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark at Creatures of the Night! Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Fur, Feathers & Fangs
(two 30-minute presentations)
Join our keepers as they introduce you to a few of our desert dwellers, and share stories about what it’s like to work with these amazing animals. Learn about their habitats and behaviors, including adaptations for surviving and thriving in this unique environment.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

August 17 — Gastronomy Night / Teacher Appreciation Night

Gastronomy / Teacher Appreciation graphic

We know that Tucson is a great place to do Astronomy, but what the heck is Gastronomy? Why was Tucson named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, part of the Creative Cities Network? ASDM Research Associate, Jesus Garcia, will give us a taste of Tucson's rich agricultural history - the longest of any city in the USA - and a sampling of the Desert Museum's food-related programs available for schools and community groups.

Sponsored by:
TEP Logo

Tonight is also Teacher Appreciation Night! In addition to our regular Cool Summer Night programming, we will showcase a variety of community educational programs available for schools. Teachers will receive free admission and 10% off in our gift shops with teacher ID*. No pre-registration necessary.

*If your school does not issue ID badges, please bring a letter on school letterhead from your principal or other administrator stating that you are a teacher.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:30 p.m. Sonoran Supermarket
Long before there were supermarkets, people were living in the Sonoran Desert. Learn about the natural bounty of our desert and experience some of the foods and fibers people have used for thousands of years.
8:00 p.m. Magueyes y Mezcales of the Sonoran Desert — A Hands-on Approach to the Revival of Agave Heritage in the Tucson Basin
For centuries many types of agaves have been used by the peoples of the Americas. In southern Mexico they call it “El Árbol de las Maravillas,” the Tree of Wonders. In this presentation we will cover the basics of agave uses, from food, fiber, and fermented drinks, to fashion and fabulous spirits! Mezcal, Tequila, Raicilla, Bacanora, Sotol? Which is which?
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

Pro tip: On Cool Summer Nights, Packrat Playhouse can reach capacity quickly! We suggest that you head there first and sign up for a time slot to guarantee your playtime.

Community Partners

Cooper Center for Environmental Learning Tucson Meet Yourself Project WET - Water Education for Teachers SARSEF Native Seed Search Neon operated by Battelle Old Pueblo Archeology Center Stemazing Arizona Math Teachers Arizona Science Teachers Association Arizona Tech in Ed Friends of Ironwood Forest Tucson Village Farm Treasures for Teachers

August 24 — Creatures of the Night

The Sonoran Desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark at Creatures of the Night! Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, enjoy a Live and (sort of) on the Loose show, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Flute Players
Relax, cool off, and sample the soothing sounds of Native-American inspired flute music.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Live and (sort of) on the Loose
(two 45-minute presentations)
Join staff members from the Herpetology Department for a live animal presentation featuring venomous reptiles of the Sonoran Desert Region.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

Pro tip: On Cool Summer Nights, Packrat Playhouse can reach capacity quickly! We suggest that you head there first and sign up for a time slot to guarantee your playtime.


August 31 — Bat Night

Bat Night graphic

Come celebrate the only flying mammals- bats! The night will be filled with fun, educational activities, talks, and crafts designed to help you better appreciate these winged wonders.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:00 p.m. Basically Bats
Come learn basic information about bats- what makes them unique, what do they eat, what “facts” are actually myths, and more, in a 45-minute presentation given by Desert Museum animal keeper, Crystal Holcombe.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Find the Elusive Bat Girl!
The first clue of this scavenger hunt is available at the front entrance. Follow all the clues to get the special code word and she will have some special prizes (one per child — while supplies last).
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Batty Activities
Join Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation to explore the fascinating lives of bats through varied hands-on activities for children, families, and educators. Celebrate these mammals for the superheroes they truly are!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Family Art Activities
Families come and go as they please. Multiple kinds of bat-related crafts, including masks, coloring pages, and TP roll bats!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Get down with your Bat-Selfie
Take a selfie with batty backdrop and bat photo props. Volunteer at site to assist with pics as needed. (Bring your own camera!)
7:00 & 8:00 p.m. Tequila Tasting
Enjoy a special guided tasting (45 minutes) with tequila expert, David Suro of Siembra Spirits. Sample fine tequilas while munching on chips and salsa. You will learn all about the history of Mexico’s blue agave and what bats have to do with tequila!
7:00 p.m. Bats Need Agaves!
Across southern Arizona, two species of bats actively forage on agave at night, hunting for sweet nectar instead of a juicy insect. Come learn more from Jason Corbett of Bat Conservation International about these fascinating bats and what is being done to conserve them and their iconic food; agaves.
8:00 p.m. Subterranean Bats
Of Arizona’s 28 species of bats, around half use underground spaces such as caves, mines, cracks, and crevices for roosting, raising their young, or hibernating. How do these bats use these spaces? What are they and how do bats hang upside down? Listen to Jason Corbett of Bat Conservation International as he dives into the dark world of cave roosting bats.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

Pro tip: On Cool Summer Nights, Packrat Playhouse can reach capacity quickly! We suggest that you head there first and sign up for a time slot to guarantee your playtime.


Couple observing the sunset

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