Chicago: Adler Planetarium

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Adler Planetarium was founded in 1930 and is America’s first planetarium. Its mission is to inspire exploration and understanding of the universe.

It was a very foggy morning when I visited Adler. Just look at that skyline!

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It was sooo cold my teeth were chattering because I did not expect Chicago to be so chilly in summer and so I had just a thin cotton jacket with me. What more, just when I was about to take photos, I realized I left my memory card in my laptop when I uploaded photos the night before.  Ugh!

And so I went back to my hotel, which was a blessing in disguise because I got to bring a thicker jacket, which came in handy as I lingered outdoors to take photos of Adler’s exterior.


The sculpture (lower right photo) is called Man Enters the Cosmos by Henry Moore. It is made of bronze and is a functional bowstring equatorial sundial created in 1980 measuring approximately 13 feet.

After exchanging my CityPass for tickets, I started exploring Adler Planetarium.


Clark Family Welcome Gallery

This exhibition features one-of-a-kind architecture with colorful lighting.


My favorite part? Its being an interactive exhibit, which allows visitors to explore space in different ways. Here’s a collage of me taking photos of and moving planets around.


It’s all possible because of infrared sensors. Cool, huh.

Shoot for the Moon
This exhibit shares the story of America’s first journey into space in the 1960s as told by Jim Lovell, a former NASA astronaut most famous for being the commander of the Apollo 13 Mission.


I was struck by his quote about the earth being a grand oasis in the vastness of space, and the part of me who, when traveling, finds joy in visiting a city’s tallest structure and looking down on the cityscape below, wished that someday, I will also get to see the world from space.

The exhibit also traces the history of the Gemini program and the hugely successful Apollo missions, which saw America reach its goal of landing man on the Moon.


But Shoot for the Moon’s coolest feature would have been the Moon Wall, which lets visitors explore the surface of the moon using the latest images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) currently orbiting the moon.


Our Solar System
An exhibit featuring planets, moons, asteroids, meteorites, and more.


Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass

Features some of the world’s most important telescopes that helped mankind discover great things about our universe.


Astronomy in Culture

This exhibit is about how ancient and medieval cultures used and studied astronomy.


Isn’t it amazing to gaze at paraphernalia from ancient times? I even found a pillar sundial from 1580!

Historic Atwood Sphere
This experience is of seeing the night sky over Chicago as it appeared in 1913. The Atwood Sphere is Chicago’s first planetarium and when I was there last year, it was celebrating its 100th year.


This is definitely worth queueing up for (I waited for about 30 minutes), but I do not recommend this to claustrophobic people because you have to go inside the sphere for a guided tour.

By the way, the sphere is seventeen feet in diameter and has 692 holes drilled through its metal surface. These holes allow light to enter and show the positions of the brightest stars in the night sky (the black and white photo was my view when I experienced this).

Live Discussions
Aside from exhibits, there were also actual discussions from the experts.


There were touchscreen monitors too that let guests explore the universe at their own pace.  Amazing!

More Adler Planetarium Experiences
Aside from trying out the Atwood Sphere, I also watched 3D Sun in Johnson Theater. Sadly, no photo-taking was allowed. I also took a photo of me in one of the exhibits featuring infrared lighting.


By the way, Adler Planetarium is a good vantage point when viewing Lake Michigan with the beautiful Chicago skyline as its backdrop. Just look at this panoramic shot I took before I left Adler.

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Isn’t it amazing? Not only did this panoramic shot capture Chicago’s skyline. Shedd Aquarium is also visible (far left), and so is Navy Pier (far right).

For more information about Adler Planetarium, visit


3 thoughts on “Chicago: Adler Planetarium

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