Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Welcome to the Universe Pass (includes general admission, Welcome
to the Universe show, additional show and the Atwood Experience):
$28, $22 kids 3-11.
When I was a little girl, before the realities of math and
science sunk in, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was fascinated with
everything about space: zero gravity, those spinning simulators at
space camp, the powdery texture of astronaut ice cream.
If you have ever stared up at the night sky and wished you could
explore the stars, Adler Planetarium is the place to visit. Now
Adler is going a step farther, with a new space adventure that
moves beyond our solar system and the Milky Way-to the edges of the
I got a sneak peek at the awe-inspiring "Welcome to the
Universe," coming to the Grainger Sky Theater, and left feeling
pretty tiny in the grand scheme of billions of light years. After
all, the audience travels virtually from Earth to the outer reaches
of the cosmos.
The show, updated weekly to make sure data is current, begins
here in Chicago with the night sky we see overhead. Amateur
astronomers may even pick up some helpful tips, like how to locate
visible planets using stars as landmarks. Next, you travel to the
Moon, Mars and the International Space Station. Visitors are even
invited to extend their hand and block the Moon out with their
thumb, like astronaut Jim Lovell once famously did.
Then comes the big stuff. If you think you feel small staring
into the Grand Canyon, you'll feel practically infinitesimal (and
maybe a little dizzy) zooming through the web of galaxies called
the Local Group. You also get the sense of just how much there
still is to be explored.
When NASA's space shuttle program ended in 2011, I was a little
sad that kids wouldn't get to dream about donning a space suit and
heading to Mars. But watching "Welcome to the Universe," I felt
hopeful. There's an incredible Universe out there, just waiting to
be explored. Maybe someday we'll get out there for real, but for
now, we can sit back, relax and enjoy the virtual ride.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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