The Adler Planetarium in Chicago has the noted distinction of being the first planetarium in the United States. Founded in 1930 by businessman, Max Adler the Adler Planetarium is the oldest in existence today and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
The Adler Planetarium is home to three full sized theaters which include an all digital projection screen, the Definiti Space Theater, the Sky Theater which uses a Zeiss optical projector and the Universe 3D Theater.
Definiti Space Theater
The Definiti Space Theater offers an unusual virtual reality experience with the digital projection that leaves guests feeling as though they were actually launched into outer space. There are a few different presentations at the Definiti Space Theater, current exhibits include the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) as it explores the boundary between the solar system and the rest of the galaxy. This production is narrated by two teens but features interviews with top professionals in the field who detail some of the unique challenges involved in space exploration. Appealing to a different demographic, One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure in the Definiti Space Theater is an original show designed specifically for the Adler Planetarium and features favorite Sesame Street characters as they learn more about familiar space objects such as the big dipper, the north star, the sun and the moon. And finally, the Definiti Space Theater presents Cosmic Collisions. Narrated by Robert Redford this show takes you through space and time to view the hypersonic impacts that continue to change the face of the universe. A variety of collisions are explored and detailed for viewers.
The Sky Theater uses the historic Zeiss projector to depict a clear night sky under various conditions and situations. Currently there are two different productions occurring on the Sky Theater, the Night Sky Live! And Skywatchers of Africa. Night Sky Live! Takes a trip across the sky with modern exploration and observing techniques. It’s a new show to the Adler and the diversity of objects in the universe with their exquisite raw beauty is nothing short of breathtaking. The Skywatchers of Africa provides a different view of the heavens, explaining how the different stellar bodies and their positions helped shape spiritual beliefs and provide for physical needs and survival. It’s an entertaining and educational look at the sky and its influence on an entire culture.
The Universe Theater is very popular with guests as there is nothing quite like a 3D exploration of the universe to bring the excitement and magnitude to life. 3-D Universe: A Symphony is an inspirational musical tour of the universe and a contribution from the Adler Planetarium to the 4The Universe Theater is very popular with guests as there is nothing quite like a 3D exploration of the universe to bring the excitement and magnitude to life. 3-D Universe: A Symphony is an inspirational musical tour of the universe and a contribution from the Adler Planetarium to the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of the telescope. The musical accompaniment is Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky and although composed in 1874 it’s particularly appropriate and timeless. The images used were collected from explorations conducted around the globe and for many of the images it their first 3D presentation. 3-D Vision: Imaging the Universe explores the science of 3D technology and how it is helpful for scientists to help visualize and form concepts of the scope of the vastness of the universe. Fly Me to the Moon is geared to the younger set with three houseflies and the crew of the Apollo 11 as they set about on an adventure to the moon.
In addition to the theaters and their regular productions the Adler Planetarium is known for its impressive antique instrument collection, its world renowned temporary and permanent exhibits, the Doane Observatory and their outreach programs that bring science and learning to so many people across the country.
Current temporary exhibits include Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass. In this important year where we celebrate the 4Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass. In this important year where we celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of the telescope the Adler Planetarium brings together some of the world’s most important telescopes and one of a kind interactive experiences together in one location. From Earth to the Universe is a temporary exhibit that features the coordinated efforts of the Adler Planetarium and O’Hare International Airport to bring a collection of astronomical images that showcase the variety f objects known to exist in the universe.
The permanent exhibits at the Adler Planetarium never seem to grow stale and always open the viewer up to the awesome beauty and majesty of the skies. Bringing the Heavens to Earth is one prime example of the connection the world has to space and the universe. Learn how people across the world have approached space and treated it with respect, awe and a scientific approach that shaped their everyday lives. CyberSpace is an exhibit that features cutting edge technology that may be the wave of the museum experience in the future. The computer based interactive exhibits, VisionStations, Cyber classrooms and a Cyberstudio bring technology to life and in the capable hands of a child who has been raised on technology it becomes an interactive experience like no other. The From the Night Sky to the Big Bang exhibit is located in the Pritzker Cosmology Gallery and traces the changing views of the cosmos through time and gives today’s current beliefs, which may eventually become additional misconceptions of the past. Our Solar System dives deeper into the solar system to showcase so much more than the sun and the eight planets we’ve come to know so well, it’s a place filled with wonder and excitement. Shoot for the Moon Exhibit is a newer exhibit that features stories of moon exploration and has a special section for younger ones to create their own moon experience. The Space Visualization Laboratory is an ongoing mission that invites guests to learn about the projects and devices being tested and tried in the museum exhibits. And the Universe in Your Hands features many of the antiques from back when the earth was considered the center of the universe.
The Doane Observatory
The Doane Observatory at the Adler Planetarium is the largest aperture telescope available to the public in the area and provides a unique opportunity for guests to see celestial bodies with their own eyes.
The Adler Planetarium also features many different activities and events throughout the year to reach and appeal to as many people as possible. It’s an exciting destination and a fun, informative adventure for everyone who visits.