Theres a great piece in this months National Geographic magazine about a space telescope on a mountaintop in Chile. Its location was chosen because the exceptionally dry atmosphere offers stellar night viewing. Admittedly, its more humid here, but there are still plenty of places in North Carolina where street lights give way to star fields. This weekend, celebrate curiosity and creativity either by staring up and imagining distant planets or by picking up crayons or colored pencils and creating them.
A statewide star party Friday and Saturday night, part of the North Carolina Science Festival, takes place at official locations aplenty. So weather permitting either show up at one or find somewhere suitable for stargazing and throw your own. Info at ncsciencefestival.org.
• Bynums ClydeFEST celebrates the towns original artist-in-residence, Clyde Jones, and encourages artistry in children. Kids can paint one of Jones distinctive chainsaw-art critters or play carnival games at Bynums ballfield, which adjoins a shady, though small, park and is a short walk from the Haw River footbridge and trails. ClydeFEST runs 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Kids get in for $3, while adults pay $7. Visit chathamarts.org for more info or to buy advance tickets.
• A birdhouse showcase in Chapel Hill and competition at Raleighs JC Raulston Arboretum provide two opportunities to see fantastically decorated homes for the songbirds that are out and singing again. Chapel Hills Carolina Inn ( carolinainn.com) opened its Birdhouses on Parade Tuesday; houses and feeders by a dozen N.C. artists will be on display at the Inn through the 21st, and admission is free. Saturday, at the Raulston Blooms garden festival, which runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m., see a variety of birdhouses as part of the annual competition. Entries range from silly to straight-faced, all from birdhouse architects sometimes as young as 4. Festival entry is $5 individually, $10 for families, or free for arboretum members. See ncsu.edu/jcraulstonarboretum for more information.
• With its indoor carousel and RC car course, Northgate Mall already features several cool, kid-friendly activities. It transforms Saturday during the Durham Arts Council Childrens Festival, featuring elaborate face painting, magic shows and performances by a childrens choir and members of the new-to-N.C. MusicianCorps program. This free event runs 11 a.m.-4p.m. More info at northgatemall.com.
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