The first planetarium built in the western hemisphere, the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum still captures intergalactic imaginations. From the entrance, visitors descend below the building, which has 12 sides, one for each sign of the zodiac. In the newest wing, a digital sky show recreates such cataclysmic phenomena as supernovas. Interactive exhibits allow you to simulate cosmic events such as a meteor hitting the earth (this one is especially cool).
Inside, the main attraction is the StarRider Theater, where you’ll take a 30 minute virtual reality trip through deep space, with eye-popping 3-D graphics. You’ll literally feel like you’re floating in space. The planetarium's exhibition galleries are equally engaging, with myriad displays and interactive activities. A must-see exhibit is “Shoot For The Moon,” an interactive exhibit on lunar exploration. Other exhibits include “From the Night Sky to the Big Bang,” which highlights the planetarium's extensive collection of astronomical artifacts.
Near the entrance to the Adler is a 12 foot (4 meter) sundial dedicated to the golden years of astronomy. West of the sundial, in the median, a bronze statue of Copernicus shows the 16th century Polish astronomer holding a compass and a model of the solar system.
Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum is located on the Museum Campus in the South Loop, just off Lakeshore Drive. Both buses and El lines get you here. Nearby attractions include the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History, which are all within walking distance. The whole place can be easily covered in less than two hours.
The sky show programs last about 50 minutes. On the first Friday night of every month - aka Far Out Fridays - the Adler's astronomers bring out their telescopes and let you view the skies along with them. The museum café has great views of the lakefront and skyline.