Destination Solar System exhibit opens at Adler Planetarium in Chicago

If you’re anything like us, your summer vacation plans probably include a couple of day trips, time by the lake and, if you’re feeling really crazy, an honest-to-goodness trip away from the Midwest.

If you go

  • Destination Solar System
  • Opens May 16
  • Offered daily
  • Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
  • Included in Adler’s new All Access Pass: .95, .95 kids 3-11
  • (312) 922-7827;


But now, thanks to Adler Planetarium, it also could include a visit to the outer edges of our solar system.

Destination Solar System, Adler’s newest live show, makes space tourism a reality. It opens to the public Friday and if the media preview audience is any indication, it will inspire a new love for the sky, stars and planets along with good old Mother Earth.

Set in the year 2096, visitors board the out-of-this-world Space Express Tour with its enthusiastic and first-time solo tour guide, Jesse. During the preview of the show Tuesday, she giggled and joked with the audience to build the excitement of the trip.

The show, in the marvelous Grainger Theatre, will make you feel like you are flying on a space ship to the sun, moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

“Our own solar system and our own backyard is a truly amazing place. It’s a topsy-turvy, almost Wonderland-like world,” says vice president of visitor experience Sarah Cole. “We hope people are a little awestruck by what is out there in our own neighborhood.”

Cole thinks visitors will especially love the journey through Mars that includes a visit to the Valles Marineris canyon, which “makes Grand Canyon look like a little scratch in the dirt.” And kids will enjoy the chance to go “plume-hunting” on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, where geyser-like explosions occasionally pop up.

There are two ways to exit the theater, one that leads you to learn more about the solar system and each individual planet and one that leads you to discover more about the moon.

President Michelle Larson said the show became an “all-hands on deck” labor of love for every member of Adler’s team to give the audience the best views possible of each star and planet.

Cole, a mom of twins who joined Adler in January, says she particularly likes that the show doesn’t feel intimidating to parents. The show makes astronomy accessible. “It’s a great opportunity for people who might feel a little nervous about talking about astronomy with their kids,” she says.

Insider tip: Nab the best seats, directly in the center of the room on the aisle. But if you tend to get a little motion sick, sit in the back center seats. There are only two brief spots in the show that might make your tummy flutter.

Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Since 1984, the Chicago Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for Chicagoland families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.
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