Watch the Stars for Free With a 16-Inch

Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    This image has been released by NASA as the last "pretty" image made by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The image made May 4, 2009 is of the planetary nebula known as Kohoutek 4-55. It is one of a series of planetary nebulae that were named after their discoverer, Czech astronomer Lubos Kohoutek. A planetary nebula contains the outer layers of a red giant star that were expelled into interstellar space when the star was in the late stages of its life. Ultraviolet radiation emitted from the remaining hot core of the star ionizes the ejected gas shells, causing them to glow. The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 will be replace during the space shuttle mission scheduled to launch Monday May 11, 2009. (AP Photo/NASA)

    With two Virginia natives up in space, this could be the perfect night for star-gazing. And guess what?

    The National Air and Space Museum's new observatory is open for exactly that tonight.

    From 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., it's your chance to see the heavens through a powerful 16-inch, 3,000-pound Boller and Chivens telescope on loan from Harvard College Observatory.

    Afterward, astronaut John Grunsfeld will be on hand in the Lockheed Martin IMAX theater, where he'll talk about the Hubble Space Telescope.

    The primary theater is sold out, but you can still get free overflow tickets for the lecture, DCist reports. 

    The observatory opened in early October 2009 and is located on the Fourth Avenue side of the National Mall building, on the terrace outside of McDonald's.