Cirque Le Masque
For an evening of special effects, lavish costumes, creative music and high-energy acts from around the world, attend a performance by Cirque Le Masque at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the William H. Amoss Performing Arts Center, Harford Community College, 401 Thomas Run Road, Bel Air. Watch artists defy the laws of gravity with aerial and trapeze acts, acrobatics and feats of juggling. Tickets are $15-$25. Call 410-836-4211 or 410-879-8920, Ext. 211.
Junior Chess Championship
Watch the country's top 10 chess players under age 20 compete for the title of 2000 US Junior Chess Champion and a $40,000 scholarship to UMBC tomorrow through July 16 on the seventh floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle. Initial rounds of the nine-round, round-robin competition take place from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow through Tuesday and July 13-15. Final rounds will be played 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 16. Free to spectators. Call 410-455-8499.
Kirk Franklin at Baltimore Arena
You'll be shouting, clapping and stomping when Kirk Franklin steps on stage at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Baltimore Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., to perform hip-hop gospel music, including such hits as "Lean on Me," "My Life Is in Your Hands" and "Watcha Lookin' 4." Also appearing are Mary Mary and Fred Hammond. Tickets are $15-$40. Call 410-481-SEAT.
Stars of the Southern Sky
In the Northern Hemisphere, you may wish upon one of the seven shining stars of the Big Dipper, but people in South Africa don't see the same beacon of light. What do they wish upon? Find out at the Maryland Science Center's newest show, "Stars of the Southern Sky," which offers visitors a view of the sky from the Southern Hemisphere, including star clusters, nebulas and galaxies. The show was designed to accompany the center's current exhibit, "Africa: One Continent. Many Worlds." The 20-minute show can be seen at least four times daily in the Davis Planetarium, in rotation with "The Raging Sun." Summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays. Admission is $11.50, $10 seniors, $8.50 ages 4-12. Call 410-685-5225.
AROUND THE HARBOR
NATALIE MERCHANT at Pier Six
Listen to a mixture of modern and traditional folk songs and pop tunes when Natalie Merchant performs Tuesday evening at Pier Six Concert Pavilion, President Street. Expect to hear songs from the performer/songwriter's days as lead singer for 10,000 Maniacs and from her solo albums, including "Beloved Wife," "Wonder" and "Carnival." Wilco also performs. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $38 and $46.50 for pavilion seats and $27 for the lawn. Call 410-481-SEAT.
John Paul Jones Days
Visit the final resting place of John Paul Jones, the great naval leader and hero of the American Revolution, and discover why and when he shouted, "I have not yet begun to fight!" Also listen to fife and drum music and learn about life aboard an 18th-century warship during John Paul Jones Days this weekend at the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center of the U.S. Naval Academy, 52 King George St., Annapolis. The two-day event also includes tours of the Naval Academy, an exhibit of "A Seaman's Life During the American Revolution," displays of navigational instruments and children's activities. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; guided walking tours are $6, $5 seniors, $4 students first through 12th grade. Call 410-263-6933.
Lectures aboard the Minnie V.
Set sail from the Inner Harbor Tuesday on the historic Minnie V. for "An Evening with Francis Scott Key." Learn the story behind the writing of the "Star-Spangled Banner" while cruising the Chesapeake Bay, sipping a beverage and nibbling on light fare. Living-history interpreter Alan Gephardt leads the program, which will be repeated July 13. The Maryland Historical Society's lecture-cruises aboard the skipjack are presented from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday through Sept. 28 and feature fun and information on a variety of topics. Admission is $20, $19 seniors and $18 MHS members. Call 410-685-3750, Ext. 321.
First Thursday on Charles Street
Enjoy special programs, discounts at shops and restaurants, free and discounted admission to museums and other attractions, entertainment, live music and more today along Charles Street and elsewhere in downtown Baltimore. "First Thursdays" activities start at noon with a lunchtime concert of jazz by After Hours. Jazzy summer sounds continue with Pieces of a Dream at 5 p.m. at War Memorial Plaza. If you prefer Irish tunes, come to the Concert in the Park at 5:30 p.m. at Mount Vernon Place and hear Donegal X-press. Then move on to Hamilton Street for a concert of samba music by Mambo Combo (pictured). Call 410-244-1030.