The building may be historic (it was the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere), but some of the attractions here will captivate the most jaded video-game addict.
Your first stop should be the modern Sky Pavilion, where the don't-miss experience is the StarRider Theater. Settle down under the massive dome, and you'll take a half-hour interactive virtual-reality trip through the Milky Way and into deep space, featuring a computer-generated 3-D-graphics projection system and controls in the armrest of each seat. Six high-resolution video projectors form a seamless image above your head -- you'll feel as if you're literally floating in space. If you're looking for more entertainment, the Sky Theater shows movies with an astronomical bent; recent shows have included Secrets of Saturn and Mars Now!
The planetarium's exhibition galleries feature a variety of displays and interactive activities. If you're only going to see one exhibit (and have kids in tow), check out Shoot For the Moon, an exhibit on lunar exploration that's full of interactive stations (it also showcases the personal collection of astronaut Jim Lovell, captain of the infamous Apollo 13 mission, who now lives in the Chicago suburbs). Other exhibits include Bringing the Heavens to Earth, which traces the ways different cultures have tried to make sense of astronomical phenomena, and From the Night Sky to the Big Bang, which includes artifacts from the planetarium's extensive collection of astronomical instruments (although suitable for older children, these can get a bit boring for little ones unless they're real astronomy nuts).
The museum's cafe provides views of the lakefront and skyline. On the first Friday evening of the month, the museum stays open until 10pm, and visitors can view dramatic close-ups of the moon, the planets, and distant galaxies through a closed-circuit monitor connected to the planetarium's Doane Observatory telescope.
Allow 2 hours, more if you want to see more than one show.
- © Frommer's 2013
Ask a local about Adler Planetarium and Astronomy MuseumLocals have answered 67 questions about Chicago.
Ask Chicago Locals about Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum
- Highly Recommended 2010
- visit website
- tel: 312/922-STAR
- fax: +1 312 322 2257
- send email
- 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr
- Chicago, IL 60605
South Loop & Printer's Row
- Memorial Day-Labor Day daily 9:30am-6pm; early Sept-late May daily 9:30am-4:30pm; 1st Fri of every month until 10pm. StarRider Theater and Sky Shows run throughout the day; call main number for current times