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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE in NH » NEW HAMPSHIRE (all topics) » The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
The Planetarium
The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center

Concord, New Hampshire

By Duncan Goodwin | May 31, 2012

Some say space is the final frontier, but those people have probably never heard of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center

Located in Concord, New Hampshire, it is a multifaceted learning center aimed at educating as many people as possible on the stars; a mission it fulfills in a variety of ways.

This educational attraction was named after Christa McAuliffe, the teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, who was one of the crew-members killed in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and Alan Shepard Jr., the first American in space.

The Discovery Center has a healthy mix of interactive exhibits and lectures with both their own educators and special guest speakers.

One such event is their Super Stellar Fridays, every Friday starting at 7PM.   This weekly talk covers a wide range of subjects from new discoveries to historical events. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors citizens & students and $6 for children.

On the first Friday of every month is Skywatch.   Starting at 7PM the center provides telescopes and there are experts on hand to provide guidance.   There is no fee and you can bring your own equipment too.

Rocketeers is another unique program offered by the center.   For just $25, participants build their own rockets, and then blast them off, under the guidance Phil Chouinard the center’s so-called master ‘Rocketman.’

Every second Friday of the month is teen night at a cost of $8.

“The teen night offers a wide variety of activities,” says Jennifer Jones, Marketing Coordinator for the center, “One of the most popular of which is probably X-Box night, when they get to play games on the big screen of the planetarium.”

A Model of a Space Shuttle

The planetarium is a ‘must-see’ at the center.   It shows a variety of programs from Black Holes, to the Dawn of the Space Age.   Many showings are available throughout the day. Pricing is $12 for adults, $11 for senior citizens & students and $9 for children.   On Friday nights after 6:30PM the prices are reduced to $9 for adults, $8 for senior citizens & students and $6 for children.

The center offers much for those that know little of astronomy, but it also runs a variety of workshops for teachers and other educators.   Graduate level credit is even available from Plymouth State University.

The center’s observatory is open every day from 1PM - 4PM.   This impressive facility has multiple telescopes, including a Lunt solar telescope; a kind of telescope that allows viewers to safely gaze at the sun during the day.

The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center’s extensive program is not confined to Fridays with summer and home school programs, providing unique opportunities to learn.

The homeschooling program is popular, according to Jones.

“Parents look for programs like this so they’ll bring their children here, we get children from all over.”

The center has six or seven different summer camps each year that children can attend and three lucky children are awarded scholarships so that they can participate in the annual Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

The center also provides the opportunity for financially struggling New Hampshire schools to bring their students to the facility for free.   The students attend workshops that meet state and national standards in science and math.

There are a variety of memberships available for those planning to frequent the center on multiple occasions.   Further details are available here.

This unique learning environment is a fun and valuable resource for all.   A visit is wholeheartedly recommended.


McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center

2 Institute Drive, Concord, NH 03301

(603) 271-STAR (7827)


The Events Calendar

Opening Times:

Daily: 10AM - 5PM

Closed on major holidays.

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