Adler Planetarium is the place for space-crazy kids

As the mom of three outer space-obsessed sons, I am grateful for the Adler Planetarium, which is a down-to-earth destination for an extra-terrestrial family outing.

Unlike my memories of Adler in the early 1980s, today’s Adler is a bright, fun-filled museum where we’ve spent many happy hours exploring various interactive exhibits. This year, Adler introduced two new reasons all ages can enjoy the visit.

Journey to the Stars

An immersive space show narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, Journey to the Stars takes audience members on a trip through space and time. We experience the life and death of stars, tour familiar space formations and even witness celestial explosions.

My sons loved the theater’s reclining chairs and giant domed screen. My youngest especially appreciated the feeling that he was flying through space as stars seemed to rush past us. The movie is crammed full of the latest scientific research, presented in language accessible to non-scientists. I don’t think my kids understood everything they heard, but they liked the “action” sequences.

Journey to the Stars is presented at the Adler 11:30 a.m., 1 and 3:15 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11:45 a.m., 1:15, 2:45 and 4:20 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Planet Explorers

After the movie, it was definitely time to play, so we headed upstairs to the designed-just-for-kids Planet Explorers exhibit. Here my kids could dress up like astronauts, perform virtual takeoffs and dockings, and search for crystals and signs of life on distant planets.

Although designed specifically for kids 9 and under, my husband and I were able to get in on the action, manipulating remote-controlled rovers and accompanying our kids on pitch-black space walks. We were also content to sit back and relax while our sons climbed, assembled and explored.

Planet Explorers is free with museum admission.

The Galaxy Package includes the Journey to the Stars show, general admission and an audio tour: $19 (adults), $17 (adult Chicago residents), $15 (children), $14 (child Chicago residents), $17 (seniors), $15 (senior Chicago

residents). Children age 3 and under admitted free.

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