Laser lights lit up the night sky in the Lowry neighborhood Saturday, November 16 as part of the  Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum annual event. This year’s program, titled “Creatures of the Cosmos,” honored astronaut Ed “Buzz” Aldrin and astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Wings Board Chair Jeff Puckett welcomed more than 600 guests to the 2013 Spreading Wings Gala, including special guests Congressman Mike Coffman and retired Col. Greg Johnson, Executive Director of CASIS (Center for the Advancement of Science in Space).

The event featured a cocktail reception, dinner, live auction and an awards ceremony honoring Buzz Aldrin and Dr. Tyson. A Who’s Who of Colorado space and aviation enthusiasts, military officers, engineering companies, aerospace executives, and others who support space exploration and technology.

Wings President/CEO Greg Anderson took the stage on a slow-moving Segway in a white astronaut suit to salute sponsors and describe the success of the facility and the future of space exploration. Besides Teflon and Tang, the space race of the ’60s brought us WD-40 and the microwave oven, among many common household items. Emcee/hostess and pilot Amelia Earhart of 9NEWS introduced and saluted the guests, including high school teen aviator Destiney Krell, who has been flying for several years.

A live auction of select packages was followed by a paddle auction led by Mark Valerio of Lockheed Martin.

The Space Foundation’s CEO Elliot Pulham led a Q&A live hour-long skype video session with astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and host of Carl Sagan’s television series, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.”  Tyson provided a lively and entertaining exchange with the audience jumping between topics ranging from Greek mythology and the Family Guy TV series, to twitter comments on the “Gravity” movie and Tsiolkovsky’s rocket equation, which he noted was printed on his tie.

“Science is mainstreaming as never before,” Tyson said. Children ask a lot of questions, he said, because they’re curious about the world and want to learn. “Scientists are kids who didn’t grow up–they explore.”

The Spreading Wings Awards were presented to Tyson and Aldrin by CEO Greg Anderson and Michael C. Gass, CEO of United Launch Alliance and honorary chair of the event. Aldrin, now 83, was unable to attend due to recent surgery which prevented him from traveling. His son, Andy, accepted the award on his behalf. Aldrin is one of only 12 American astronauts during the six manned Apollo moon missions between 1969 and 1972. He with Neil Armstrong were the first to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969 and holds the world record with a 5½-hour space walk.

The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum in Lowry celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. Plans are underway for a new 55,000-square-foot facility in Centennial, tentatively called Wings’ Exploration of Flight. This year’s event was sponsored by United Launch Alliance, Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Information Handling Services and Arta Tequila.  For more information visit: www.wingsmuseum.org.