New perks, attractions highlight the Adler Planetarium’s reopening

By Kristen Gesicki, Staff Reporter

After dealing with repairs and being closed for nearly two years, the Adler Planetarium welcomed back visitors with new perks for 2022. K’Von Jackson

Planets of various sizes hang from the ceiling of the Adler Planetarium as scientists explain in interactive videos what the universe is like beyond our blue and green planet. Stars light up the ceiling as the indoor dome engulfs visitors deep into space, without even leaving their seats.

The Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, reopened its doors last month, nearly two years after being shut down due to COVID-19.

The Adler Planetarium has been around since 1930, educating visitors of all ages about our world and its connection to space. It is the oldest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.

While the Adler Planetarium has been open more than 91 years, its roof was over 80 years old, according to Jennifer Howell, senior manager of public relations. Now, the planetarium has a new roof to welcome its guests back.

“We were starting to have some issues with worrying that it was going to affect our collections,” Howell said. “So because we were closed, we were able to take advantage of that, and we have a beautiful new copper roof that is going to shine for generations to come.”

To welcome back its guests after the March 4 reopening, the planetarium is offering free museum entry every Wednesday of 2022 for Illinois residents. Proof of Illinois residency is required. Tickets must be purchased in advance on the Adler Planetarium website.

During the pandemic, the planetarium created interactive and digital content for curious space explorers to learn about space. Skywatch Wednesday, Sky Observers Hangout and their space-science comedy show Wow! Signal were created to engage with visitors outside of the planetarium.

Other additions to the planetarium include its newest sky show, Imagine The Moon. This show was released in 2019 before the pandemic.

“It’s about humanity’s connection to the moon, our universe and celestial body,” Howell said. “A lot of people haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet because it did release right before the pandemic.”

The Planetarium offers stargazing on Wednesday nights, which are free for Illinois residents. K’Von Jackson

The planetarium offers two other sky shows for visitors to see: Planet Nine, which allows viewers to explore the galaxy in search of a ninth planet, and Destination Solar System, which takes passengers in a rocket ship on a tour through space, traveling hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth.

Before the pandemic, the Adler Planetarium hosted an adults-only event called Adler After Dark, where visitors could explore the universe after hours, once a month.

After some revisions, the Adler planetarium is now offering Adler At Night — an exploration of our stars at night for everyone to see.

“We realized that people come to the planetarium because they want to witness being under the night sky,” Howell said. “And that’s hard to do, obviously, during the day. So, we changed our hours to accommodate everyone to be able to come.”

Adler At Night is open every Wednesday from 4-10 p.m. for space explorers of all ages. Illinois residents get in for free with proof of Illinois ID.

The Adler Planetarium also teamed up with the city of Chicago to create its newest exhibit, Chicago’s Night Sky, which goes into a deep dive about light pollution and its effect on the city’s stars.

“In the city of Chicago, you can only see about 35 stars in the night sky, which is crazy, because there’s literally thousands of stars,” Howell said. “[Chicago Night Sky] talks about the work the Adler Planetarium is doing with the city of Chicago and how we work together with them to work on local issues in the city and restoring some of our night sky, so that the people in Chicago can see more of our universe.”

To learn more about our galaxy and the evolution of space science, head to the Adler Planetarium’s website for tickets.