A flock of birds fly across a blue sky

Animals don't use GPS to navigate the world around them, so how do they do it? Join us for a night featuring some of the amazing science behind communication and wayfinding in nature.

  • Sharks routinely make long-distance migrations, sometimes spanning entire ocean basins to their targeted locations. How do they maintain such incredible navigational success? Dr. Bryan Keller, Foreign Affairs Specialist at NOAA Fisheries, shares the story of a group of bonnethead sharks off the coast of Florida, and how they may be using the earth's magnetic field as a navigational aid.
  • Bats are skilled at echolocation, producing soundwaves to pinpoint their surroundings, but when it comes to navigating mid-flight they might not rely on echolocation as much as previously thought. Dr. Aaron Corcoran, Head of the Sensory and Aerial Ecology Lab at the University of Colorado, reveals the nighttime-navigation strategies of the hoary bat.
  • Ever taken a second to look closely at the marvels of an ant trail? Learn about the communication ecology of these insects as Jaime Mathew Chalissery, Master of Pest Management, shares the secrets of how little ants traverse a big world, and how one species of pavement ant coordinates its vast network of trails.



NightSchool is live on the first & third Thursdays of every month.

All NightSchool virtual programming is intended for audiences 21+.



Missed the party? Just want to relive the magic? Watch the recorded livestreams on YouTube!


Planetarium Shows

8:30 pm, 9:30 pm

Discover how a deeper understanding of Earth might help us spot other living worlds light-years away.

6:30 pm, 7:30 pm

Explore the immense scale of the known Universe in this live presentation that leaves Earth far behind.

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Upcoming events

June 15th at 6:00 pm

Explore the Academy at night alongside nearly 60,000 live animals.

June 22nd at 6:00 pm

Kick off SF Pride in style at NightLife! Featuring fierce performances by Oaklash and so much more.

June 29th at 6:00 pm

What's gender got to do with it? More than you think. Hear how scientists defy gender barriers to create change.

July 6th at 6:00 pm

See what’s revealed once the sun goes down and explore the nocturnal side of the Academy.

July 20th at 6:00 pm

Explore the nocturnal side of the Academy and see what makes the museum at night different.

July 27th at 6:00 pm

We’re hella juiced to honor our favorite place: The Bay. Celebrate the region’s famed legacy, featuring KQED.