Plan Your Visit to Adler Planetarium
Our view of the night sky can be breathtaking when light pollution is low and our attention is focused. But even with a telescope, there are certain things in the universe that we cannot see with our own eyes. Thanks to the brilliant and curious minds before us, planetariums now exist so the public can better understand and continue to explore our mysterious universe.
Adler Planetarium of Chicago
The Adler Planetarium of Chicago was the first planetarium in the western hemisphere, opening its doors to the public on May 12th, 1930. But, nearly 90 years later, the Adler Planetarium remains on the cutting edge of innovation, incorporating interactive displays into ints exhibits while playing mind-blowing films that take you above and beyond the stars via stellar 30 minute space adventures. The planetarium sits at the edge of the beautiful Lake Michigan, and is in a prime location, neighboring other great Chicago attractions like the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum.
Adler Planetarium Exhibits
The Clark Family Welcome Gallery
Welcome to Adler Planetarium, where luminous architecture and interactive displays pull you into a world of wonder. This gallery is made up of 13,000 feet of aluminum tubing, 20,000 yards of fabric, and 125 LED lights capable of shining in sixteen million colors and over two billion lighting combinations. The video presentations and displays will dazzle you with fascinating facts about the universe.
Mission Moon Exhibit
Before the mid-20th century, astronomers and would-be astronauts could only dream of the day when humans could travel through space. After Yuri Gagarin accomplished that aboard the Vostok 1, the next dream was to get a human being on the moon. The Mission Moon exhibit takes you through America's first moon landing through Captain Lovell's eyes. Launch a rocket, rescue Apollo 13, and get a close look at the original Gemini 12 spacecraft in this interactive exhibit. Learn more about the challenges that came with an out-of-this-world mission and the technology that allowed it to be a success.
The Universe: A Walk through Space and Time
Beyond the timeline of humankind is the much longer timeline of the planet Earth. And beyond that is the ostensibly boundless timeline of space itself. In the exhibit The Universe: A Walk through Space and Time, you will walk through a cosmic, light-up tunnel and follow the life journey of the universe over 13.7 billion years, beginning with the Big Bang. The exhibit features various stations where you can change the overhead projections with a touch screen. See the solar system light years away, and send yourself an e-postcard from the far reaches of space in this exhibit perfect for all ages.
Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass
Though telescopes have given astronomers greater insight into the stars and universe above, they aren't old technology. In fact, until about 400 years ago, what we knew about the universe was based on what we saw with the naked eye and the questions that arose from observation. In this exhibit, you'll see many telescopes, one of which is a gigantic antique, 22 feet in length. Check out the Grand Orrery, a hand-crafted wood and brass model of the Solar system, and learn about how these models evolved after telescopes painted a more detailed picture of our universe.
Astronomy in Culture Exhibit
Discover the inventions of curious minds before you. Learn about the teachers, mathematicians, monks, and even kings who were inspired by the skies to create such tools as the cannon sundial. The medieval classroom will give you an inside look into the teachings of the past.
Adler Planetarium For Kids
The Adler Planetarium is great at accommodating the experience for people of all ages. While there are plenty of exhibits and shows that are perfect for the entire family, there are specific exhibits designed to give children an adventure of their very own.
For children ages 3-8, Planet Explorers provides a space playground and a remarkable adventure. You start off on Earth in what looks to be a backyard before learning about your mission into the unknown. Kids can take turns controlling the two-story rocket before exploring the Space Station and discovering how objects we know and are familiar with work differently in space. When the little ones get to Planet X, they can begin the search for life.
Community Design Lab
Problem solve and experiment at the Community Design Lab where kids can conduct their own research using tools like marshmallows and bubble wrap. Guided activities allow kids to have fun while learning about science and space.
One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
Take a trip to the moon with Sesame Street's very own Big Bird and Elmo in this entertaining theater show. Kids can learn about the sun, the moon, and the constellation of the Big Dipper. This sing along adventure is great for the little ones.
Sensory Kits For Kids With Autism
Adler Planetarium provides a great experience for those with sensory processing disorders and offers a sensory processing kit! Kits include sound reducing headphones, personal schedules, fidgets, and more. Two kits are currently available for free checkout; one is available at the Main Box Office and one is available at the accessible South Box Office. Kits are available on a first-come, first-served basis with photo identification. They do ask that you provide feedback after your experience to help them make these kits even better for future visitors.
For more information, please visit the official Adler Planetarium Website.
Adler Planetarium Shows
The Grainger Sky Theater, the Definiti Space Theater, and the 3D Universe Theater each offer visitors with unique presentations and a surreal journey through space. The Grainger Sky Theater show "Cosmic Wonder" will pull you in with spectacular images of the cosmos from the ever-evolving technology that allows us to get closer to the enigma that is the universe.
The Adler Planetarium also offers a wide range of other shows, including "Destination Solar System", "Planet 9", and "Skywatch Live!." Each offers vivid views of the skies above and will leave you and your family in awe. Check out the schedule on the Adler Planetarium website for full details on shows and other events.
Galileo's Cafe at Adler Planetarium
If you're hungry for more than knowledge, Galileo's Cafe has plenty of food to satisfy your taste buds. Soups, sandwiches, flatbreads, salads, and desserts are available alongside a breathtaking view of the Chicago skyline. The cafe is open from 9:30am - 2:30pm on weekdays and from 9:30 to 3:15pm on weekends.
Adler Planetarium After Dark
On the third thursday of every month, you can enjoy a 21+ event at the Adler Planetarium from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. Every Adler After Dark event includes full access and admission to all of the exhibits and galleries, unlimited shows, special guests and lectures, access to the Doane observatory (with additional ticket), live entertainment, and fabulous cocktails (can be purchased at event bars). Take your friends, your adult family members, or a date.
Adler Planetarium Ticket Prices & Hours
The best deal comes with the purchase of a CityPASS booklet, which can save you on admission to Chicago's top attractions, many of which are located near the Adler Planetarium.
For a full list of hours, check out their website here.
Tips and Tricks for a Better Visit
If you want to avoid the biggest crowds, weekdays are the best time to visit the Adler Planetarium. Keep in mind that school field trips will bring in some traffic during the week, so if you don't want a lot of kids around, try to plan your trip around the third thursday of the month so you can enjoy the 21+ Adler After Dark experience. The Adler theater shows are touted as the highlight of the planetarium by many visitors and a CityPASS ticket booklet includes unlimited access to shows.
To get the most out of your stay in Chicago, we recommend finding lodging near Chicago's top attractions like Adler Planetarium. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:
Header image courtesy Adler Planetarium