Outdoor Life: Sky watching and star gazing

May 26, 2014 

Summer nights offer relief from the day’s heat and bring the sweet smells of jasmine and moonflowers floating in the breeze.

Walking through the neighborhood, dozing on the porch swing or making firefly lanterns may be enough for some, but others want a little more entertainment.

We suggest turning to the stars – celestial or cinematic. Here are our suggestions for both.

Morehead Planetarium

The staff at Morehead Planetarium offers skywatching sessions nearly every month, usually at Jordan Lake. You get to look through telescopes brought by the planetarium, and a Morehead educator explains what you’re seeing in the night sky. Sessions are scheduled so you’ll see the moon and usually at least one planet. At times, the Milky Way is visible.

Good to know: The sessions are free, and you don’t need a reservation, just show up. Don’t come if it’s raining or cloudy. If unsure, call after 5 the day of the session. Park at the Ebenezer Church Recreation Area. Bringing a flashlight is OK (and a good idea for visiting the restrooms), but make sure it has a red filter. White lights will ruin your night vision – and everyone else’s, too.

Info: 919-962-1236 or www.moreheadplanetarium.org

Here’s the current schedule for Jordan Lake, and what you should be able to see:

May 31 9-11 p.m.: Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn

June 28 9-11 p.m.: Jupiter, Mars, Saturn

Aug. 2 9-11 p.m.: Moon, Mars, Saturn

Sept. 6 8-10 p.m.: Saturn, Mars

Sept. 27 7:30-9:30 p.m.: Moon, Saturn, Mars

Nov. 1 7-9 p.m.: Moon, Mars

Dec. 13 8-10 p.m.: Geminid meteor shower

Raleigh Astronomy Club

The Raleigh Astronomy Club also holds observing sessions several times a year that are open to the public. The next is June 22. Members provide their telescopes and expertise. To find out more, go to www.raleighastro.org

On your own

The Perseid meteor shower occurs every August, peaking between Aug. 10 and 13. It’s popular with stargazers because at its peak you can see 60 to 100 meteors in an hour from a dark place.

This year, it will compete with a waning moon, but try to see it in the hours right before dawn. You’ll need a dark yard, a lawn chair and patience.

Movies under the stars

The N.C. Museum of Art, 2100 Blue Ridge Road

The museum offers movies on the lawn Fridays and Saturdays. Shows start at 9 p.m. in June and July and 8:30 in August and September. Members and children 6 and younger get in free; all others pay $5. Gates open 90 minutes before show time.

Details: Get tickets at the box office in the East Building, by calling 919-715-5923 or at http://ncartmuseum.org/buy-tickets.

The schedule

June 6: “Philomena,” starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. PG-13

June 7: “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi and Catherine Keener. PG-13

June 13: “42,” the Jackie Robinson story, starring Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford and Nicole Beharie. PG-13

June 20: “Enough Said,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini. PG-13

June 21: “Saving Mr. Banks,” starring Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell. PG-13

June 27: “Mary Poppins,” starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. G

July 11: “Frozen,” animated, with the voices of Kristen Bell, and Jonathan Groff. PG

July 18: “Her,” starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson. R

July 25: “Gravity,” starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. PG-13

Aug. 1: “12 Years a Slave,” Oscar best picture winner, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o. R

Aug. 8: “American Hustle,” starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. R

Aug. 15: “Bull Durham,” starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. R

Aug. 16: “Caddyshack,” starring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray. R

Aug. 22: “Nebraska,” starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte and June Squibb. R

Aug. 23: “The Lego Movie,” animated, with the voices of Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Jonah Hill, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman and others. PG

Sept. 5: “Grand Budapest Hotel,” starring Ralph Fiennes and F. Murray Abraham. R

Sept. 6: Second annual “The Big Lebowski” Dude Abides Party, starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi. R

Booth Amphitheater

8003 Regency Parkway, Cary

Movies on various Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through the summer, starting about 8:30 p.m.

You can bring in lawn chairs and picnics (including beer and wine). Tickets are $3 (free for kids under 12) except for the “Grease Sing-A-Long.” Those tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for ages 5-12 in advance; $20 adults, $10 kids the day of the show; 4 and under are free.

Details: 919-462-2025; http://boothamphitheatre.com/

The schedule

May 16: “Frozen” (2013) PG

May 23: “Gravity” (2013) PG

June 5: “Caddyshack” (1980) R

June 12: “The Princess Bride” (1987) PG-13

July 11: “The Lego Movie” (2014) PG

July 18: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013) PG-13

July 25: “Now You See Me” (2013) PG-13

Aug. 8: “Despicable Me 2” (2013) PG

Aug. 9: “Captain Phillips” (2013) PG-13

Aug. 23: “Grease Sing-A-Long,” wear costumes (there will be judging) and get a goody bag.

PNC Downtown Raleigh Movie Series

Free movies on Fridays through June 27 on a wide screen in City Plaza, 400 block of Fayetteville Street. Expect food trucks and bands before the movie. Festivities are from 5 to 10:30 p.m., with movies starting at dusk.

Details: http://downtownraleighmovieseries.com/

The schedule:

May 30: “Talladega Nights”

June 6: “The Last of the Mohicans”

June 13: “Hunger Games”

June 20: “Iron Man 3”

June 27: Full Frame Roadshow

Movies in the Park

The Leaf, 501 Foster St., Durham

Programs are presented by Durham Cinematheque. Admission is free, but the hat will be passed. Come early if you want to picnic. Bring your own chair or blanket.

Details: http://durhamcentralpark.org/events/

May 30, 9 p.m.: “You Want to Get Married? REALLY?” An archival look at the institution with films from the 1950s through the 1970s. Also includes a fresh selection of cigarette commercials.

July 5, 9 p.m: “Around the World in 80 Minutes.” See faraway lands with musical interludes.

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