‘Pushing the envelope,’ Adler Planetarium in Chicago delivers with new space experience

Wow. This tiny word sums up the huge out-of-this-world experience at Adler Planetarium’s new Deep Space Adventure show.

Using advanced digital technology, real scientific data collected from space and storytelling that holds even short attention spans, if Adler’s new movie was any more real you’d actually feel the blast from the explosion as a star is torn apart by a black hole. Or as Adler President, Paul H. Knappenberger Jr., says, “It’s the next best thing to flying your own space ship.”

Adler set out to create an experience for every visitor to become a space explorer, Knappenberger says. “We wanted to do something different and really push the envelope.”

The jewel of that effort is the Grainger Sky Theater. Don’t expect just any ordinary sky show here. The 180-degree dome and special lighting provide a 360-degree experience in ultra-high definition that actually makes you feel you are moving — flying on a space ship through our Milky Way, all the way back over Chicago and landing at Adler.

Entering through the Clark Family Welcome Gallery, kids will be immediately drawn to the four interactive screens. In one, kids can use their hands to guide astronauts floating in space back to their space station. It is in the Welcome Gallery that families will first meet main character of the show — the Searcher.

The Deep Space Adventure screenplay, written by sci-fi author Carl Sagan’s son, Nick, and narrated by actor Billy Crudup, tells the story of an alien who is searching for the people of his planet. Visitors join him on his space ship after he finds his own planet abandoned.

Following the show, visitors will be directed into a new exhibit gallery that features themes in the show. Kids will especially like the mirrors showing the effects of gravity near the black hole on their bodies and feeling the weight of an ordinary can of soda on Earth, the moon and Jupiter.

Deep Space Adventure opens Friday and you’ll want your family to be among the first in line. It is an experience you’ll never forget.

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