How to celebrate Astronomy Day in Chicago


Turn your eyes to the skies, stargazers. It’s officially Astronomy Day! April 21 is designated as a day to look up—preferably with a telescope. And here in Illinois, we have some great spots for stargazing, whether you can tell Ursa Major from Ursa Minor (or from Ursula the Sea Witch) or not. Here are four to try.


Adler Planetarium


It’s perhaps the most obvious spot for some astronomical fun, but Adler actually hosts ‘Scopes in the City events away from Museum Campus. This month’s stargazing takes place at Chicago Botanic Garden on April 21 and North Beverly’s Kellogg Elementary School on April 23. Or if you want the more traditional museum experience, the planetarium’s Doane Observatory opens to the public for Doane at Dusk, a free event on April 27.


University of Chicago


The prestigious college’s Ryerson Astronomical Society has a rooftop observatory that opens to the public every clear Wednesday night (check the weather before you go!). Observation is on a come-and-go basis, from 8:30-10:30 p.m. But you can make a night of it and stop at beloved Medici on 57th for some kid-friendly fare or out-of-this-world pie or a shake.


The Glen D. Riley Observatory


This hidden gem in the western suburbs was created by the Naperville Astronomical Society and boasts a 16-inch Newtonian reflecting telescope. Saturday nights are often designated for free, family-friendly public viewing; check the online calendar for specific dates and times. Or make it a double feature when you catch some stars on the silver screen at Regal Cinemas Bolingbrook 12, which is less than 10 minutes away.


Dearborn Observatory


Northwestern University’s historic 18.5-inch refracting telescope lets guests get up-close-and-personal with the stars and planets that aren’t seen by the naked eye. Stop by from 9-10 p.m. on Friday nights for free observation from the roof, which is held rain or shine. Before you wish upon a star, grab some dinner at Lucky Platter, a restaurant with food for all palates.


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