Public Info

Union County Celebrates Space Week at Trailside Nature and Science Center

In celebration of World Space Week, the Union County Board of County Commissioners invites residents to visit Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside for a series of special programs, crafts, activities, giveaways and more for the week of October 7 – 14. Programs are open to participants ages six and older.

“Trailside’s special presentations on solar eclipses offer visitors a fantastic opportunity to gain additional information and insight from knowledgeable speakers before the upcoming solar astronomical events on October 14, 2023 and April 8, 2024,” said Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados. “I encourage anyone who is interested in learning about the wonders of our solar system to visit Trailside during this event.”

Pre-registration is required for all programs and can be completed online at A modest fee applies to most programs.

On October 7th, visitors can join Paul Cirillo for a presentation at 1:30 p.m. on the 2024 Great American Solar Eclipse.  Paul is a member of the NJ Astronomical Association, which operates the largest public observatory in New Jersey. He is also a volunteer outreach “ambassador” for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His easy style of communicating allows diverse audiences to understand the wonders of the universe. His talks include the latest astronomical images from observatories both on and off the Earth.

On October 14, an annular solar eclipse will cross North, Central and South America. Join members of the Amateur Astronomers, Inc. for a brief presentation on the partial solar eclipse that will occur on this day. The presentation begins at 11:30 a.m. and will be followed by a solar eclipse watch, weather permitting. Solar viewing glasses will be provided for all registrants.

Trailside will also offer two guided walks on the new, half-mile Solar System Trail in the Watchung Reservation.  Participants will learn how to use the audio guides to discover fun facts about our solar system. Every step on this walk represents a million miles in space. Walks take place on October 7 at 11:30 a.m. and October 14 at 1:30 p.m.

Trailside’s fall workshop series will continue for toddlers, families and seniors, featuring classes with space-themed topics. Programs began September 28 and run through December 5.

Toddler Time, for adults with children ages three and under, meets on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. To celebrate Space Week, young visitors can attend classes about the Stars & Planets and Sun & Moon. Additional topics include Monarch Mania, Bats & Beasts, Fall Fun, Wigwam Ways, Animal Architects and Nocturnal Neighbors.

The Senior Nature Walk series, for participants ages 55 and older, meets on Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. These guided walks are led by a Trailside naturalist and highlight a different topic each week. In preparation for the annular solar eclipse, participants will walk the Solar System Trail and learn all about solar eclipses on October 10.  Other topics include Pollinators, Spotted Lanternfly, Fall Foliage Walk, Fall Stroll at Oak Ridge Park, Living Lenape, Deserted Village Tour and Echo Lake Walk.

Four evening programs will be offered this fall for adults with children ages six and older. Families can explore the Watchung Reservation by the light of the full moon and find out which animals become active at night. These programs include Harvest Moon Walk, Hunter’s Moon Walk, Nocturnal Neighbors and When I’m Sleepy.

Mark your calendar for upcoming events at Trailside, including a live animal show on October 28th at 1:30 p.m. and again at 2:45 p.m.  Larry from Unique Creatures will educate visitors and give an up-close look at some unique animals from around the world, including snakes, lizards, insects, birds, and mammals.

To register and for more information about upcoming activities for children, families and seniors, including Space Week, visit or call 908-789-3670.