Recent blockbuster movies including “Interstellar,” “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” show off a vast array of imaginary planets.  

Audiences are fascinated by the unusual landscapes, strange weather and fantastic alien life. What would it be like to see two suns in the sky? What sort of animals would live on a water planet, or a gas giant? If our Earth can no longer support us, will the human race one day travel to other worlds? For all of human history, people have been mesmerized by the stars and wondered what else might be out there in our universe. Are we alone? Should we be worried?

Southeast Texas, with its connection to NASA, has played a pivotal role in space exploration. The often mis-quoted phrase “Houston, we have a problem” associated with the movie about the real space mission Apollo 13 has become a cliché, used to indicate any sort of problem at all, often humorously. 

“Exploring the Universe,” a special exhibit on loan from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, showcases the technology used to observe distant reaches of space, and the methods currently being developed that may one day let us travel outside our own solar system. Science-fiction fans and scientists alike will enjoy trying to separate fact from fantasy in “Science or Science-Fiction,” a special section focused on thought-provoking theories and spectacular recent discoveries.

Exploring the Universe will be on view at the Museum of the Gulf Coast now through August 27.

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $3 for children 4-18, $5 for students & seniors and $6 for adults.

A free family day will be from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. July 9. Children will be able to climb inside a real space suit, participate in science experiments and enjoy the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s “Discovery Dome,” a traveling planetarium. The sky, in this case, is not the limit.

Click here for more upcoming events.