NASA scientists and other astronomers spent the afternoon setting up a variety of telescopes through which the kids will get a rare view of the moon and the planet Jupiter, among other things in outer space.
President and Mrs. Obama were hosting the event to imbue local youngsters with the excitement of science. And the president sounded pretty excited himself.
"I am really looking forward to this," he said earlier in the day. "This is going to be fun."
He said the kids will "peer through telescopes, wander through exhibits, and hopefully feel a sense of wonder that might one day lead them here to receive a medal themselves."
"It's really important to have events like this to remind (kids) that science is really cool," Rise said as reporters toured the South Lawn in advance of the evening of star-gazing.
More than a dozen telescopes of various sizes were set up in the White House backyard.
There were three inflated domes the kids will enter to see various exhibits. They'll be able to handle a small piece of moon rock brought back to earth by the crew of Apollo 17.
"It's designed to be one that you can touch," said the NASA official overseeing the exhibit.
Even more unusual, NASA brought along a chunk of rock it claims is part of a meteorite from Mars. Yes, Mars!
But how do they know for sure a rock found in Antarctica is from Mars?
"When we finally sent spacecraft to Mars and sampled the Martian atmosphere, it turns out it has a chemistry that's identical to gasses that were trapped inside of these rocks," said the NASA expert. It's a good bet the kids examining the rock will have plenty more questions about it.
It's a great excuse to stay out on a school night.