Only cocktail attire is required for a trip to outer space Friday night in Pullman.The Palouse Discovery Science Center will have its third annual Wine Under the Stars, a unique fundraiser with a bent toward science.
Indoor and outdoor stargazing, live music, exhibits and a historical re-enactment featuring eccentric genius Nikola Tesla are a few of the highlights.
“It’s a unique resource for the region,” says Victoria Scalise, the center’s executive director. “I want people to see what we do offer the community and how informal science education benefits kids.”
While the center is in Pullman, it is visited by nearly as many children from the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley as from the Palouse, Scalise says.
Wine Under the Stars, with its theme “A Taste of Wine, A Taste of Science,” is geared toward adults. Along with offering locally crafted wine and beer, Pullman’s Merry Cellars and Paradise Creek Brewery will present the science behind wine and beer making. Food will be heavy hors d’oeuvres. Jazz music will be provided by the Jon Anderson Trio.
Last year’s historical guest was Galileo. This year an actor portraying Nikola Tesla will demonstrate the power of a Tesla Coil on loan from Washington State University. A Tesla Coil creates extremely powerful wireless electrical fields. It can make a person’s hair stand on end or cause nearby fluorescent light tubes to glow brighter.
Every half-hour a new exploration will begin in the center’s inflatable planetarium. Using Stellarium software, the planetarium can transport viewers anywhere in the universe, from specific planets to galaxies beyond the Milky Way. It can also offer views of the night sky throughout history, says front desk manager Stephen Veith.
Outside, members of the Palouse Astronomical Society will guide real-time stargazing through a variety of telescopes.
The center’s regular exhibits and lessons will be on display for guests to see how they are designed to appeal to youth. Among them is a new exhibit on nanotechnology.
It takes about $180,000 a year to operate the nonprofit center that is mostly supported by donations and grants. Wine Under the Stars will highlight other ways the community can support the center.
While the event is scheduled to last until 9 p.m. it often goes a little later, says Scalise, who adds that, like the kids who visit, the adults sometimes have a hard time leaving.
if you go
WHAT: Wine Under the Stars
WHERE: Palouse Discovery Science Center, 950 N.E. Nelson Court, Pullman
WHEN: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8
COST: $40, online or at the center
OF NOTE: Dress is cocktail attire