Students love learning about the stars, especially when it means they get to leave the classroom for the day and immerse themselves into the big screen (or dome) and see it all for themselves!
Hands-on learning experiences are some of the most successful for students, making really excellent options for field trips for almost any age of student group. With the big solar eclipse happening in 2017, the Pluto debate coming to a close, and new information about our universe discovered everyday, there's never been a better time to visit your local (or even far away) planetarium!
- Adler Planetarium - Chicago
Adler Planetarium is located right on Lake Michigan in Chicago, known by many as the best, and the oldest, planetarium in America. Adler was first built in 1930, immediately recognized as the first in the country and sporting an iconic art deco style that made it highly recognizable. Inside you will find the early brainchild of astronomy and astrophysics, complete with three newly advanced theaters in which to immerse yourself in the stars. Enjoy daily programs, special lectures, a giant telescope, several school programs and hangouts, and tons of educational exhibits such as Astronomy in Culture!
- Hayden Planetarium - New York City
Coming in close second is New York City’s own Hayden Planetarium, one of the most visited planetariums in the entire world. Hayden was built in 1935 and supports the highly popular Sphere Star Theater, as well as its popularly notable director Neil deGrasse Tyson. Within the larger American Museum of Natural History, you will find an IMAX, special exhibits, and several opportunities to catch a lecture by a famous astrophysicist or author. See regularly scheduled star shows, eat at Cafe Starlight, or find out why this place is considered to be "ground zero" for the Pluto debate.
- Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles
Griffith Observatory is one on the list that you may have already seen, in various movies or TV series, that is. Here on the hills of Mount Hollywood, within Griffith Park, you will find the 1935 art deco observatory that holds a museum, 285 seat theater, unique daily star shows and parties, and an incredible view of the Los Angeles Basin. This stop is included in several Hollywood tours, most notably remembered from the movies Star Trek and Transformers, and also offers the community live eclipse viewings and celestial special events! This is the perfect way to get hands-on in Hollywood!
- ExploraDome - Minneapolis
The ExploraDome, located in Minneapolis, is definitely the most unique option on our list, being the only portable, hands-on planetarium environment in the region! Part of the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minnesota, this really fun and immersive observatory can travel to schools and allow students to "virtually travel to the end of the universe." All about the presentation, ExploraDome will allow you to discover planets and observe the stars, all from where you are, literally! Their unique 25 foot dome and Uniview projector is so easy to move and learn from, all you have to do is lay back and enjoy the ride!
- Morrison Planetarium - San Francisco
Head to San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences for this last option, the Morrison Planetarium. This structure holds the largest of all digital planetariums in the world, the huge dome measuring out at a whopping 90-foot diameter. Within this fun addition to the California Academy you and your group can partake in live tours of the universe, view live NASA feeds, see special exhibits and lectures pertaining to what's going on in the universe, and be involved in countless immersive learning opportunities!
- Burke Baker - Houston - Burke Baker is most widely known for its history in training NASA astronauts in the field of Identifying star-fields, holding the most advanced sky-scan digital projection system in the world.
- Morehead - Chapel Hill - Morehead really knows its stuff, being a really great option for student field trips for its dozens of daily themed shows, nighttime real-life views of the North Carolina sky, and extreme weather in outer space courses!