NightLife: Smoke & Mirrors

NightLife: Smoke & Mirrors 
Thursday, September 8, 6-10 pm
21+ with ID
Prices vary; planetarium passes $5

For guaranteed availability, we strongly recommend purchasing tickets in advance. Last rainforest entry is 7:30 pm. Proof of full vaccination OR negative test within 48 hours required; boosters and indoor masking strongly encouraged but not required. Learn more.

Behold the power of illusion as both humans and animals entertain and mystify your senses for one magical night.

Sounds by Anthony Dragons

Featured Cocktails

  • Sleight of Mezcal – Mezcal, OJ, Pomegranate Juice, Triple Sec, Simple Syrup
  • Ala-Cosmo – Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Lime Juice, Triple Sec, Simple Syrup


Snake in the Grass
Science Today
8:00 PM

  • Sometimes things are not as they seem, especially when you're a snake. Join the Academy’s herpetologist, Erica Ely, as she explains why mimicry isn’t just a cool party trick for these serpentine masters of disguise.

Let it Burn
West Garden
6 - 10 PM

  • Learn all about pyrography from our friends at the Museum of Craft and Design, and use a wood burning pen to customize your very own wooden mirror with imagery from under the microscope.

Abra Cadabra
7:30 - 9:30 PM

  • Prepare to be mesmerized as legendary local illusionist Calvin Kai Ku roams the floor of the museum with interactive illusions that will leave you bewildered.

Now You See Me…
6 - 10 PM

  • They could be brown, they could be blue, they could be anything you like. Birds we mean. Explore the avian rainbow and learn how birds use color as a means of deception with our Curator of Ornithology and Mammalogy, Dr. Jack Dumbacher.


A few don't-miss NightLife details:

  • To help keep staff and guests safe, proof of full COVID-19 vaccination OR a negative test result from within 48 hours of the event is required for entry, and boosters and indoor masking are strongly encouraged. Feeling under the weather? Please NightLife another time! View health and safety information here.
  • Last entry into the rainforest exhibit is 7:30 pm—our animals need their sleep.
  • Morrison Planetarium is now open at NightLife with 4 showtimes. To maximize staff and guest safety, planetarium passes are required and capacity is limited. Passes are available online in advance for an additional $5 while supplies last to reserve a seat at a 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, or 9:30 pm planetarium show. Please see our FAQs for more details. (Please note: A limited number of standby seats will be available for all showtimes as space allows on a first-come, first-served basis. Food and drink are not permitted inside the planetarium.)
  • Beverages are available at various bars throughout the building, but food must enjoyed outdoors or in the Academy Cafe only.
  • NightLife is for adults 21+ only. Photo ID required.
  • Still have Qs? See our FAQs here.


Planetarium Shows

8:30 pm, 9:30 pm

Discover how a deeper understanding of Earth might help us spot other living worlds light-years away.

6:30 pm, 7:30 pm

Explore the immense scale of the known Universe in this live presentation that leaves Earth far behind.

Get NightLife emails

Delightful NightLife news, delivered weekly.

Upcoming ticketed museum events

October 6th at 6:00 pm

Bird is the word! Flock over to NightLife for beers and birds in honor of this Oktoberfest tradition.

October 13th at 6:00 pm

Touch, smell, hear, taste, and feel your way through the museum for a night that just makes sense.

October 20th at 6:00 pm

Explore the nocturnal side of the Academy and see what makes the museum at night different. For adults 21+.

October 27th at 6:00 pm

We’re dying to have you back at our annual Halloween bash for a spine-tingling night dead-icated to science!

November 3rd at 6:00 pm

Lil’ NightLife, Big Vibes. Join us for an evening devoted to all the small things— from microbes to tiny homes.

November 10th at 6:00 pm

Spice up your Thursday night and take your tastebuds for a ride at our hottest NightLife yet.

Upcoming free virtual events

October 6th at 7:00 pm

What live everywhere there’s water, are invisible to the naked eye, and are essential to life on Earth? Diatoms!

October 20th at 7:00 pm

We’re throwing a mini-festival celebrating the ground beneath your feet.