Houston, let there be light. Or so says Space Center Houston. After a successful launch last year, the official NASA visitors center is celebrating the holidays with its second annual Galaxy Lights extravaganza. From now until January 3, Houstonians can enjoy a space-themed interactive light installation, presented by Reliant.

This go-round, Galaxy Lights has expanded to reflect the big year NASA had. The center’s holiday setup includes an all-lit-up SpaceX Falcon rocket, which made history this summer with its first manned launch, and two kinetic light shows, in which suspended lights dance in a choreographed holiday sequence with 16 million different color combinations.

“Galaxy Lights is the most interactive and technologically advanced light show in Texas,” says William Harris, Space Center Houston’s president and CEO. “The shooting star set outside near the SpaceX Falcon 9 is the largest single decoration in Texas.”

Along with these new additions, Space Center Houston is also highlighting the 20th anniversary of continuous human habitation aboard the International Space Station. The “Lights Around the World” display features six 20-foot trees, representing each of the Space Station partners: NASA, Canadian Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Russia’s Roscosmos, European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. And at the tip of the Falcon 9 display, folks can snap a picture with a massive, 15-foot wreath made with flags of every ISS partner.

Plus, Galaxy Lights is featuring an interactive show called “Let There Be Light,” which was incorporated so visitors could learn the science behind starlight, along with how lighting conditions aboard the International Space Station affect astronauts, says Harris.

“This year’s Galaxy Lights coincides with our year-long celebrations honoring 20 years of continuous human habitation aboard the Space Station,” Harris says. “It’s a great opportunity to share how the ISS is an international partnership furthering humanity through scientific research about the Space Station,”

And if you really want to see the stars, guests will walk through a 200-foot LED light tunnel, with over 250,000 lights, synchronized to holiday music, that feature models of the solar system.

“Through live demonstrations and large-scale space-themed light installations, Galaxy Lights sheds light on what’s happening in the future of space exploration.”

Although the light shows are interactive, Space Center Houston is still taking safety precautions, says Harris. Along with limited capacity in the center and timed admission tickets for staggered entry to the museum, guests will be required to wear face coverings and social distance. There are plexiglass shields at ticket counters, a one-directional flow through the galleries, a new touchless entry with self-scan turnstiles, and touchless credit-card transactions.

“Space Center Houston’s Galaxy Lights gives visitors a unique opportunity to celebrate the holiday season,” Harris says, “while exploring Space Center Houston after hours and walking among rare-flown artifacts and exhibits.”

Thru Jan 3. $19.95 for public, $15.95 for members, free for ages 3 and younger. Space Center Houston, 1601 NASA Pkwy. More at spacecenter.org.

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