Images from Spitzer

Benjamin Dean Astronomy Lectures
Exposing the Hidden Colors of the Infrared Universe
Robert Hurt, Visualization Scientist at NASA's Spitzer Space Science Center
Monday, June 8 at 7:30 pm | Morrison Planetarium

Since its launch in 2003, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has studied everything from asteroids in our solar system to the remote galaxies at the edge of the observable universe. In this talk, Robert Hurt will explore the telescope’s fascinating images of the Milky Way galaxy in infrared light. Visible-light telescopes have trouble exploring this region due to vast dust clouds that obscure starlight. Spitzer uses infrared light to penetrate dust and capture images of space beyond the galaxy’s center. Join Hurt in the Academy’s planetarium to learn about the scientific legacy of the Spitzer Space Telescope along with a decade’s worth of hidden stories spanning a decade of its operation.
Tickets: General $12, Seniors $10, Members $8. Seating is limited and advanced ticketing is required. To purchase tickets, visit or call (877) 227-1831.

Conservation Photography Programs
Overnight Excursion: Lassen National Park (Ages 18+)
Led by Gary Sharlow, Photographer & Education Manager
Saturday, June 13 at 8:00 am – Sunday, June 14 | Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to smoking fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and towering volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to mold the land above and below the surface. During this two-day excursion, Gary Sharlow—one of Academy’s professional photographers—will guide a small group to some of Lassen’s most breathtaking spots while offering helpful tips for capturing nature at its best. Sharlow will be lodging at Hat Creek Resort. Attendees are invited to book cabins, nearby tent sites, or bring their own RV, though transportation will be provided from the lodging grounds to the trailhead each morning at 8 am.
Reservations: General $225, Members: $200. Space is limited and advanced ticketing is required. (Attendees must be able to hike at least 5-10 miles each day at a class 5 strenuous level.) Please purchase tickets in advance to avoid a trip cancellation. To reserve a place today, visit or call (877) 227-1831.

The Fascinating Lives of Dolphins, Porpoises, and Whales of the Bay Area
Jonathan Stern, Department of Biology, San Francisco State University
Monday, June 29 at 7:00 pm | African Hall

After decades away, harbor porpoises are making a thrilling San Francisco Bay comeback. These small marine mammals were rarely seen after World War II habitat disruptions and abysmal regional water health drove away what was once a thriving population. Today, with much-improved Bay water quality and rebounding food webs, harbor porpoises seem to be rediscovering the habitat in our own backyard. San Francisco State University whale researcher Jonathan Stern will discuss the historical use of San Francisco Bay by harbor porpoises (and the disruptions that drove them out) and speculate on the reasons behind their exciting return. Stern was the first Marine Mammal Center volunteer when it opened in 1975, and currently studies minke whales, harbor porpoises, and bottlenose dolphins off the San Francisco coastline. Join him for an engaging discussion in the Academy’s African Hall exhibit.
Tickets: General $12, Seniors $10. Free to Members. Seating is limited and advanced ticketing is required. To purchase tickets, visit or call (877) 227-1831.

Conversations on Science
Drugs, Dopamine, and Lessons From The Brain
Nora D. Volkow in Conversation with Michael Krasny
Tuesday June 30 at 7:30 pm | Nourse Theatre By definition, drugs are a medicine or other substance that has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body. Drugs are chemicals that alter, block, or mimic chemical reactions in the brain. They may be taken for medicinal purposes, used as a recreational activity, or ingested as part of our daily routine. This fascinating live conversation delves into a central question: what are the true underlying risks and benefits associated with introducing these chemicals into the body? How do they alter the brain’s natural function and what impact does that have on the quality of our lives? What you don’t know about the dopamine pathway might just surprise you.
Tickets: General $27, Members $24. To reserve a place today, visit or call (415) 392-4400. This series takes place at the historic Nourse Theatre located at 275 Hayes Street in San Francisco. Space is limited and advanced purchase is recommended.

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., is Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Volkow’s work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, she pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects and addictive properties of abusable drugs. Her studies have documented changes in the dopamine system, impacting, among others, the functions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive, and pleasure in addiction. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD, and aging.

Michael Krasny is the host of the KQED Public Radio program Forum. He is also a professor of English at San Francisco State University and the author of Spiritual Envy: an Agnostic’s Quest and Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life. His many City Arts & Lectures interviews include Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, John Irving, and Brian Greene.

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and research and education programs, which engage people of all ages and backgrounds on two of the most important topics of our time: life and its sustainability. Admission to the Academy is: $34.95 for adults; $29.95 for youth ages 12 to 17, Seniors ages 65+, and students with valid ID; $24.95 for children ages 4 to 11; and free for children ages 3 and younger. Admission fees include all exhibits and shows. Hours are 9:30 am - 5:00 pm Monday - Saturday, and 11:00 am - 5:00 pm on Sunday. During peak periods, including some holiday weekends, an admission surcharge and extended hours may apply. Visit or call (415) 379-8000 for more.

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