Summer is an excellent time to visit your local planetarium for a night of star gazing. And, if you are planning a summer vacation, your STEMists will want a trip to a planetarium added to your list of must- see attractions. Here are 7 U.S planetariums that should be on your trip list as part of a summer vacation or family weekend.
Hayden Planetarium in New York City, part of the American Museum of Natural History & the Department of Astrophysics, is a sure bet for your family and space-loving STEMists! The Hayden Planetarium offers daily shows on a high-resolution video system, highlighting the birth of the universe and touring the solar system in its Hayden Sphere Star Theatre. The Hayden Planetarium is directed by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who was inspired in his career by a visit to the same planetarium as a kid.
Albert Einstein Planetarium
The Albert Einstein Planetarium located in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., offers a free “The Stars Tonight” program daily in addition to their standard shows. The museum uses a Sky Dual projection system with a stereo perspective that is sure to impress your STEMists. And, while you are visiting, don’t miss the newest museum exhibit, the Space Shuttle Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
Visitors will be delighted with their trip through the cosmos and the vastness of the galaxies at the ExploraDome located in Minneapolis, part of the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum. This 25-foot planetarium dome offers an exceptional interactive exhibit and learning environment for all ages. Unlike traditional planetariums, the ExploraDome is portable and travels to local schools for celebrations of space!
The Adler Planetarium
The first planetarium built in the U.S., The Adler Planetarium, located on shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, has been thrilling visitors since 1930. The Adler’s unique view on space science education and its ability to teach at a kid’s level will wow your STEMists as they are transported to the distant corners of the cosmos to learn how the Universe has evolved over 13.7 billion years. And a viewing of the stars over Chicago in the “Night Sky Live!” show will please visitors of all ages. Kids have the opportunity to explore tunnel systems and man a rocket ship while on an imaginary trip to a mysterious planet, and don’t miss Space Junk 3D, a show that explores the dangers of space debris orbiting Earth. While you are there, your STEMists will round out their science education with a trip to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History nearby.
Burke Baker Planetarium
The Burke Baker Planetarium, located in Houston, Texas, is where NASA trains Space Shuttle astronauts in recognizing star fields. Its SkySkan Digital Sky projector offers the latest in planetarium technology. This domed theater is one of the most technically advanced in the world.
Drake Planetarium and Science Center
The Drake Planetarium and Science Center is where the sky is not the limit. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, interactive exhibits are what make this Center a must-see for children. From the Secret of the Cardboard Rocket movie to special summer camps where Lego building is paired with space education, The Drake Planetarium and Science Center lives its mission of hands-on learning and rewarding inspiring young STEMists minds.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Kendall Planetarium blends science, fantasy and fun with art, and features both educational and entertaining multimedia presentations. You will want to schedule time to see the ultimate space vacation movie, Perfect Little Planet. Your STEMists will explore space through the eyes of a family from another star system; they will fly over the Dwarf Planet, Pluto, and dive over the ice cliffs of Miranda in this adventure for space travelers of all ages.
No matter what part of the U.S. you vacation to, there’s a planetarium in every corner, engaging visitors on a learning adventure of one of the most thrilling topics of mankind—space.
And, if you can’t get away this summer, you can order our Moon Dance — full of everything you need to learn about and do hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) experiments for ages 8+. Because children are natural engineers, we blend Scientific Inquiry and the Engineering Design Process, which allows children to create ingenious inventions, enhance critical problem solving skills and have FUN!