Carolyn Sumners, Ed.D.

Curator of Astronomy

Dr. Carolyn Sumners is a pioneer in space education. Her tenure at HMNS includes training NASA astronauts on star fields in the museum’s Burke Baker Planetarium, developing the Expedition Center (formerly Challenger Center) which takes students on missions to the Moon and Mars, designing portable planetariums to bring the wonders of the museum to students unable to travel to the museum on field trips, and upgraded the Burke Baker Planetarium to be the first 8K planetarium in the world.

A practicing archaeo-astronomer, Dr. Sumners maps the night at critical moments in history by researching historical accounts, and recreates the view on the planetarium dome. She has produced many planetarium shows based on her research including Mystery of the Christmas Star, Stars of the Pharaohs, Fate of the Maya and Night of the Titanic which have been viewed in planetariums all over the world.

Dr. Sumners is passionate about science education and providing children the inspiration to make their own discoveries. “Kids can discover what’s out there in space with their own eyes at the George Observatory, experience virtual manned space flight in the Expedition Center, and imagine how science will advance future space exploration in the Burke Baker Planetarium,” said Sumners. “At the museum, we want to inspire children to pursue science, to help create the future they will be living in.”

She previously led the museum’s HISD, scouts and youth programming. She has also led numerous astronomical HMNS Travel Programs to see Haley’s Comet, the Northern Lights in Iceland and Norway, and solar eclipses on every continent.

Dr. Sumners also serves as an adjunct professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University. She has written trade books, a textbook series and dozens of planetarium shows. She is often interviewed by media on current astronomy events.

Click here for list of publications and more information.


Burke Baker Planetarium

Expedition Center

Discovery Dome

George Observatory


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