The Universe in Verse

A charitable celebration of the wonder of reality through stories of science winged with poetry.


Location: The Quarry Amphitheater, UC Santa Cruz
Date: Saturday, April 16, 2022
Arrival and Check-in: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Event Time: 7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.


Join us for The Universe in Verse — an annual charitable celebration of science and nature, winged with poetry and music, created and hosted by Maria Popova (The Marginalian) in collaboration with astronomer and UC Santa Cruz Director of Astrobiology Natalie Batalha.

In the majestic Quarry Amphitheater in the redwoods, we will explore the marvel and mystery of life, from the creaturely to the cosmic, with stories from the history of science and our search for truth, illustrated with poems about entropy and evolution, trees and mushrooms, consciousness and dark matter, the birth of flowers and the death of stars, performed by a constellation of  extraordinary humans: pioneering astronomers Jill Tarter and Natalie Batalha, writers Rebecca Solnit and Roxane Gay, musicians Zoë Keating and Joan As Police Woman, artists Debbie Millman and Wendy MacNaughton, poet Diane Ackerman, cosmologist and jazz saxophonist Stephon Alexander, cognitive scientist and writer Alexandra Horowitz, physicist and writer Alan Lightman, and On Being creator Krista Tippett. There will be live music and stargazing, and some thrilling surprises.


To make The Universe in Verse maximally open to all, tickets are available on a pay-what-you-can basis at three levels. Please contribute the maximum you are able, knowing that it would make the experience possible for someone else of humbler means, knowing too that all proceeds from the show are split halfway between The Nature Conservancy and a new scholarship at UCSC honoring the life and legacy of astronomer and search-for-life pioneer Frank Drake.

         General Admission: 
          Contribution level 1:                $ 25.00 
          Contribution level 2:                $ 50.00
          Contribution level 3:                $100.00 
          Student tickets:                     $ 15.00


Sponsors & Partners

We are grateful for the generous support from the UC Santa Cruz Foundation, UCSC Astrobiology Initiative, the Boom and Gunderson Family Fund, and The Humanities Institute. We appreciate the participation of our local community, including Bookshop Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Amateur Astronomy Club.



This event will take place at the Quarry Amphitheater at UC Santa Cruz, under the stars and encircled by redwoods.  Please dress warmly. Most seating will be on the amphitheater benches. You may want to bring a stadium seat cushion or a blanket for comfort.  As we contemplate life, we celebrate all that is life-giving, including rain.  This event will take place rain or shine. Come prepared for both. No refunds.



Doors open at 6:00 pm. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to leave plenty of time to park at the East Remote Parking Lot, catch the shuttle or enjoy a leisurely 10 – 15 minute walk to the venue, and check in with vaccination cards and tickets at the entrance. The performance begins at 7:00 p.m. and should finish by 9:30 p.m.  After the event, and weather permitting, guests are invited to take in celestial sights through telescopes shared by local astronomical association members.


In accordance with UCSC policy, the event organizers require that visitors (age 12+) show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the Quarry Amphitheatre. Be prepared to show your proof of vaccination upon arrival. You may review our updated Health and Safety Policy here.


Directions and Parking info

Enter campus through UCSC’s main entrance at the intersection of Bay and High Streets.  Proceed northbound one-half mile on Coolidge Drive and turn left at the second stoplight onto Hagar Drive.  Proceed northbound on Hagar Drive three-quarters of a mile and turn right into the East Remote parking (Lot 104). There is a $5 fee to park on campus, paid using the ParkMobile App (download here: apple,google). We highly recommend that you download the app before arriving on campus.

A 15 min walk uphill along paved and lighted pedestrian walkways will take you from East Remote Lot to the Quarry Amphitheatre.  There will be signs marking the way. Limited shuttle service will also be available.

ADA parking for this event will be located at the Bay Tree Bookstore Parking Lot 102 next to the Quarry Plaza. Each vehicle must display a current ADA placard to be able to park in this area.  For any further ADA accessibility accommodations please email

Shuttles will run from East Remote Lot to the Quarry Amphitheatre and back. It is a 15 min walk uphill from East Remote Lot to the Quarry Amphitheatre if you prefer to walk.

For special accommodation needs, contact Special Events (831) 459-5003.


After the event

Walk back to the East Remote Lot and pause to marvel at the night sky through telescopes on the East Field courtesy of Santa Cruz Amateur Astronomy Club and UC Santa Cruz Astronomy astronomers.



Suggestions for our out of town guests can be found here.


Things to do in Santa Cruz

Plan your visit:


Natural Bridges State Beach

This park and beach is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, as well as seals and otters playing offshore. Further along the beach, public access tidepools offer a glimpse of life beneath the sea. Low tides reveal sea stars, shore crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life.  The park also includes a large area of coastal scrub and grasslands, with bright native wildflowers in the spring.  Moore Creek flows through the park, forming freshwater wetlands and a salt marsh before it reaches the sea.


Wilder State Park

The Santa Cruz coastline awaits discovery on Wilder Ranch State Park’s 7,000 acres. From the crest of Ben Lomond Mountain, the landscape rolls down ancient wave-cut terraces through the marsh lands of a nature preserve to the seashore. Step back in time to the late 1800’s and visit an early dairy ranch. You can explore California’s early ranching history by visiting an 1897 Victorian home, or experience an 1896 water-powered machine shop. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the front lawn, and visit the farm animals. With more than 35 miles of trail, you can adventure into the Santa Cruz Mountains or walk along the coastal bluffs.


Henry Cowell State Park – Redwood Loop

Redwood Grove Loop Trail is a 0.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Felton, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.


Santa Cruz Area Wineries