Now that Mars has receded slightly into the night sky following its closest brush with Earth in 60,000 years, you may find that you and your family miss its comforting nearness. The Houston Space Center has stepped in to fill the red void with its new exhibit, "Mars, The Race to the Red Planet." The exhibit is named for the neck-and-neck contest between NASA's twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and the European Space Agency's lander Mars Express, all currently hurtling toward our nearest planetary neighbor.The show will teach you and the kiddos about those unmanned capsules, plus the polar ice caps and volcanoes of the planet's landscape and the myths and legends that have dogged the fiery red dot in the sky throughout history. You'll also see the largest Mars rock on Earth and find out how it got here. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through March 31. 1601 NASA Road 1. For information, call 281-244-2100 or visit www.spacecenter.org. $17.95; $13.95 for kids. --Lisa Simon
Look for Martians at the Johnson Space Center.
Courtesy of the Washington Mutual Thanksgiving Day
Before you gather the kids round the family table to gobble up the bird, work up an appetite at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. After hoisting the little pilgrims up on your shoulders all morning to look at the elaborate floats and gigantic balloons, that feast (and the subsequent nap) will be well deserved. 9 a.m. Thursday, November 27. Downtown. For information and a map, call 713-543-7000 or visit www.khou.com/wamuparade. Free. -- Keith Plocek
Thanks to marketing, the holiday spirit comes around earlier every year. Even if this makes you feel like a Scrooge, you should still take Tiny Tim to see A Christmas Carol, or three holiday spirits just might visit you personally. 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 28, through December 28. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For tickets and a full schedule, call 713-228-8421 or visit www.alleytheatre.org. $37 to $54. -- Keith Plocek