The National Air and Space Museum is opening its public observatory Thursday night for stargazing. You can use one of the professional telescopes to pick out the night’s constellations. 9 to 10. Free.
ArtFest 2011, a weeklong group showcase at Hendry House (2411 N. 24th St., Arlington), sponsored by the Arlington Artists Alliance, kicks off with an opening reception Friday from 6 to 8. There’ll be refreshments and a chance to meet the artists who are displaying their work. Free.
“Culture Wars: Then and Now” is an all-day program at the Corcoran Gallery of Art Saturday. The series of panel discussions look at censorship in the arts, particularly in light of recent threats to pull funding from cultural institutions. Pre-register through the Corcoran’s Web site. 9:30 to 5:30. Free.
Spring-clean your wardrobe—and get some fresh pieces in exchange—at the Hillyer Art Space’s Swap Shop Saturday. For each item of clothing you bring in, you’ll be given a ticket to pick out something new. 11 to 4. Buy tickets ($10) through PayPal.
As part of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, the National Museum of Natural History is screening the winners of the 2010 Wildscreen Festival Saturday at noon. The selections include a film about Asiatic wild dogs as well as one about efforts to save coral reefs in Fiji. Free.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival officially starts Saturday, and there’s an opening ceremony at the National Building Museum to celebrate, featuring music and dance performances. Afterward, continue the fun with our guide to festival-themed food and drink specials and the best in Japanese food in Washington. 4 to 5:30. Free.
If you couldn’t make it to Austin for SXSW, check out one of the featured bands, Electra, at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage Saturday. The group was recently named the best new band in Israel by Time Out Tel Aviv. 6 PM. Free.
La Rafle (The Round Up), written and directed by Roselyne Bosch, screens at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington Saturday. The film looks at the Vichy government’s role in the Holocaust, and though it’s fiction, Bosch did years of research. Buy tickets ($8) from WizEvents. 8:45.
The local rock band the Nunchucks is celebrating the release of its new CD at the Rock & Roll Hotel Saturday night. Also playing are Cobra Collective, Loose Lips, and Honey House. Buy tickets ($10) from TicketAlternative. Doors open at 8; the show starts at 9.
Dance for a good cause at U Street Music Hall Saturday night, where there’s a Japan Relief Fundraiser featuring local DJs including Tittsworth, Reed vs. Reed, and Uncle Jesse. All proceeds go to the Red Cross. 10 PM. Minimum donation $10. Get tickets through TicketFly.