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Join us Thursday, October 6 at 7pm PT for a free NightSchool livestream!

They live anywhere and everywhere there’s water, they're invisible to the naked eye, and they're essential to life on Earth: They're diatoms!

Sometimes called “floating solar panels” and “nature’s glass houses,” diatoms are likely the most under-appreciated (and strikingly beautiful) organisms responsible for the air we breathe. Take a tour through the Academy’s world-renowned diatom collection, get a closeup look at these microscopic jewels, and learn how researchers are studying phytoplankton in Antarctica through community science.

  • Join Chrissy Garcia, the Geology Collections Manager at the Academy, for a crash-course in diatoms: what they are, why they’re important, and how the Academy acquired a world-renowned (and most well documented) diatom collection.
     
  • The cell walls of diatoms are made of transparent silica (i.e. glass), which means they don’t decompose and instead leave a jewel of a fossil record, which artists have been using as a medium since the 19th century. Take a journey through the incredible beauty of the Academy’s collection with Steve Mandel, research associate at UC Santa Cruz and award-winning photographer.
     
  • Yes, diatoms can even live in polar waters. Join Allison Cusick, biological oceanographer, and Martina Mascioni, phytoplankton ecologist, on a virtual trip to Antarctica, where they’re harnessing the power of community science to investigate how melting glaciers are affecting the phytoplankton along the Antarctic Peninsula.

 

NightSchool is live on the first & third Thursdays of every month.

All NightSchool virtual programming is intended for audiences 21+.

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PAST NIGHTSCHOOL EVENTS

Missed the party? Just want to relive the magic? Watch the recorded livestreams on YouTube!

 

Music

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.

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Upcoming ticketed museum events

December 1st at 6:00 pm

Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, everyone 21+ is invited to shop the halls at our annual holiday bazaar!

December 8th at 6:00 pm

See what’s revealed once the sun goes down and explore the nocturnal side of the Academy. For adults 21+.

Upcoming free virtual events

December 1st at 7:00 pm

Meet the group of plants that are older than dinosaurs and the most endangered organisms on Earth.

December 15th at 7:00 pm

Reflect on a changing world with performers and poets whose work sits at the intersection of art and science.