The first planetarium in the Western hemisphere is found on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois. If you find yourself in Chicago, it’s well worth the trip.
• The Adler is the only museum in the world with two full-size planetarium theaters. The dome of the historic Sky Theater is visible from the exterior of the building. A classic Zeiss planetarium projector displays an accurate depiction of the night sky onto the inside of the dome.
• Feature video presentations are given using Digistar 3 simulator technology in the Star Rider theater, built in 1999.
• “The Solar System” is a favorite exhibit which explores planets, moons, comets and asteroids. You can drive a rover to examine the simulated surface of Mars, shoot projectiles into a soft surface to make your own craters, and sit down at a computer to create your own solar system and test its gravitational stability.
The dome of the Adler Planetarium on Lake Michigan
A Deeper Look
• The Milky Way Galaxy exhibition gives you a 3D tour of our dynamic and evolving galaxy.
• A new permanent exhibition reveals past highlights of space exploration, as well as current plans to return to the Moon later this century. This exhibition features the fully-restored Gemini 12 spacecraft, which flew in 1966.
Good To Know
The founder of the planetarium Max Adler, had a keen interest in antique astronomical artifacts. He purchased a collection of about 500 astronomical, navigational, and mathematical instruments from the 12th to 20th centuries. Many are on exhibit at the planetarium. This fascinating display is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
I last visited Adler on an icy day in early 2007. There was much to see, but the exhibit I remember most is the set handwritten letters by Jim Lovell, commander of Gemini 12 and the “successfully failed” Apollo 13 mission. As a young boy in the 1940’s, Lovell developed an interest in space travel and wrote letters to esteemed scientists to ask how he might one day go into space. His subsequent career as a naval officer, test pilot, and celebrated astronaut are testament to his vision, determination, and the extraordinary times in which he lived.