Indoor Stargazing… Even at Night

Art & Architecture, Nightlife
April 19, 2010 8:00 am

Chicago’s Adler Planetarium is impressive. The building is beautiful, the telescopes are numerous and the activities amuse adults and kids alike. But add a bar and an unparalleled view of Chicago’s nighttime skyline? Now we’re talking.

Adler After Dark takes place every third Thursday of the month from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with plenty to drink at the bar, including wine, beer and featured cocktails that change monthly (April’s is the $7 Silver Surfer, a mix of “Silver Tequila, Rum, Vodka, Sierra Mist and dash of lemon and lime”). Although you can’t take that deadly cocktail through every exhibit (notably the moonscape, which would be most fun to play in after a few Silver Surfers), the major attractions are open and staffed with museum employees who know a thing or two about what you’re looking at.

[A special thanks to Mac LeBuhn, who kindly agreed to appear in almost every photo below.]

During regular museum hours the Doane Observatory is closed to the public, but Adler After Dark breaks all the rules. (The telescope here is the largest in the Midwest available to those of us who do not have a PhD in cosmology.) If you don’t make it to Doane, the South Terrace offers a view of Saturn, rings and all. The planet is so far away that the light it gives off takes an hour and 12 minutes to reach the telescope, which means when you look at Saturn, you see the planet as it looked an hour and 12 minutes ago. Cool, right? Get this: A second telescope was pointed at the Sears Tower, with a close-up of about 40 or so office windows. Hunting for steamy affairs has never been so easy.

Don’t miss a ride on the early 20th century-era version of an IMAX theater (beverages allowed) or the photo shoot that puts your face under a newspaper headline.

Tickets at the door are $10 for students and members and $15 for non-members, but buy early online and prices drop to $7 and $10, respectively. For more info on the exhibits Mac and I saw, check out the museum’s exhibit page.

Tara for TKGO

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  • I can’t wait to try this out. Thanks for sharing! Looks like it was a wonderful night.

  • I definitely want to go to this before I graduate! Sounds like so much fun and definitely on my bucket list now.

  • I agree! I definitely wont miss the next one. Love the After Dark series at the Art Institute too.

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