MT TAMALPAIS STATE PARK -- Closing mountain top for fire danger

Our rangers have announced that due to dangerous wind conditions, there is a Red Flag Critical Fire Weather Closure for Mt. Tam as of 4 PM today (Saturday 10/3) until at least 10 AM Sunday 10/4. Rangers are in the process of closing down the upper mountain to vehicular traffic and posting "No Fire" notices in the campgrounds. We will update when the closure is either extended or lifted.

Astronomy Nights on Mt. Tamalpais

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our 27th year on the mountain

April 25
Dr. Jacob Cohen, NASA-Ames, Chief-Scientist

“Stepping Out of the Nest”

How does research into the search for water and habitable planets, astrobiology, space biology, small satellites, advanced manufacturing, autonomous vehicles and synthetic biology make science fiction into science reality?  NASA-Ames scientists have a vision for human flight  from our Earthly nest to explore and live in space.

May 23

Dr. Imke de Pater, UC Berkeley, Chair Astronomy Dept

        “What Wonderful Worlds: Exploring our Solar System 

Our knowledge about our own Solar System has increased by leaps and bounds over the past few decades due to a combination of spacecraft missions and technical advancements on ground based telescopes. Why do we explore our Solar System? Review the numerous bodies now known to orbit the Sun, now familiar to us as individual worlds. Learn more about impacts on Jupiter, volcanic activity on Io, and planetary rings.

June 20

Andrew Fraknoi,  Foothill College, Chair Astronomy Dept

“The Top Tourist Sights of the Solar System: Where Bill Gates’ Great-Granddaughter Will Go on Her Honeymoon

Using spectacular images from space probes and the world’s largest telescopes, explore the most intriguing future “tourist destinations” among the planets and moons in our cosmic neighborhood.  Among our stops will be the 4,000-mile lava channel on Venus, the towering Mount Olympus volcano on Mars, the awesome Verona Cliffs on the moon Miranda (,the tallest “lover’s leap” in the solar system), and the recently discovered steam geysers on Saturn’s intriguing moon Enceladus.

July 11


Screening of the 1997 classic science fiction film “Contact”

Book by Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, Directed by Robert Zemeckis Post discussion led by Dr. Carolyn Porco, Science Advisor on the film Jodie Foster portrays the film’s protagonist, Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, a SETI scientist who finds strong evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen to make first contact. The film was released on July 11, 1997, grossed  $171 million worldwide and won the Hugo Award and received multiple Saturn awards and nominations.

July 25

 Dr. Phil Marshall, Kavli Institute, Project Scientist

“Weighing Galaxies”

We live in a galaxy of about a hundred billion stars, the Milky Way. As the sky over Mount Tam darkens, and the stars in the disk of our galactic home come into view, see how we are mapping out where the Dark Matter is, both in our local group of galaxies and further out in the depths of space. Galaxies are much heavier than they look – what could that mean for our understanding of how stars form, and what Dark Matter is?

Aug 22

 Dr. Lynn Rothschild, NASA-AMES, Synthetic Biologist

         “A Biological Perspective on the Meaning of Time”

Life is a phenomenon that integrates processes ranging from the near instantaneous reactions of photosynthesis to the more stately pace of evolution. How are these processes with radically different time scales    creating and maintaining the diversity of life on earth? What are the clocks that nature uses to time them? And how is modern biology being used to alter the natural time scales?

Sept 12
(Note Date Change)

Dr. Carolyn Porco, Space Science Institute, CICLOPS Director

      “In the Land of Enchantment: A Decade Exploring Saturn” 

A glistening spaceship, with seven lonely years and billions of miles behind it, glides into orbit around a softly-hued, ringed planet.  A flying-saucer shaped machine descends through a hazy atmosphere and lands on the surface of an alien moon. These visions are not a dream but tell of the explorations of the  Cassini spacecraft and its Huygens probe in 2004. Come along for the ride, and witness the sights and magic worked by these emissaries from Earth to the enchanting realm of Saturn.

Oct 17

 Dr. Geoff Marcy, UC Berkeley, Professor of Astronomy 

“Prospects and Hunting for Intelligent Life in the Universe”

Not one microbe has been found anywhere in the universe, except on Earth, nor have any intelligent civilizations been found. Is our Galaxy teeming with life, as suggested by science fiction, or might intelligent life be rare in the Milky Way Galaxy? New telescopes and techniques can answer these questions.