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Eclecticisms: Adler Planetarium Trip

Monday, March 21, 2011

Adler Planetarium Trip

I've been struggling with coming up with ideas for blogs lately, and the two I had planned for this weekend were nixed when I got sick late Saturday night. I still plan on trying the recipe I picked out at a later date, but I was supposed to plant seedlings with my Mom and wanted to track how they were doing through my blog. I might end up just tracking things I plant directly in the garden in a couple of months. (Big disappointment!)

Anyways, I spent Sunday doing everything in my power to kick this cold (which I've done, for the most part) so my Monday plans of going to the Adler Planetarium wouldn't have to be postponed. Luckily, I woke up feeling ok so we hit the road around 9:30 as planned and headed downtown.

The Adler Planetarium is one of many fantastic museums that Chicago has to offer. If you haven't been there and either live here or are ever in the area, check it out! (By the way... did anyone get to see the super moon this weekend? There were too many clouds overhead and I didn't catch a glimpse. I'm pretty bummed about it!)

There's something about looking up at the night sky and learning about space that makes me feel a certain sadness. Part of that is because we are really so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things and part of it is probably just feeling so overwhelmed and small compared to even the tiniest of stars. Still, somewhere in that sadness hides a sort of joy really, knowing that we are here and we are so aware of our stellar surroundings, always learning more. I'm in awe of those who are able to grasp the scientific facts, math and physics around it all. Those who work in this field are true geniuses and I can't help but feel a litle bit dumb when I read about the things they do. Still, I can enjoy the beauty, the vastness, the sheer beauty, that is the universe.

To begin, I can't help but make fun of the woman who couldn't figure out how to pay to get into the lot. Even with the help of the lot employee, she was baffled.

I know... I'm a jerk. This isn't news. Let's move on.

It was a gloomy morning, but there are some really great views from the museum's property.
Main Entrance
The view from the deck outside their cafe:


Now onto the actual museum.

Cpt Lovell

One topic touched on by an exhibit was light pollution. There was a board where you could fill out post-its and explain how you would work to reduce it. I just had to post a few of my favorites (not including the "ninja" one).

These kids are going to recreate the Great Chicago Fire...

Light pollution is something I've always lived with. Having been in Chicago my entire life, it's just something I've always been used to. I love going out in the country and looking up at the stars and actually being able to see more than a couple. Still, I usually can see quite a bit from my yard (I'm on the edge of the city and there's no alley or lights back there) so it's not something I'm super aware of and it certainly doesn't consciously bother me. These pictures really put things into perspective though.

I can't imagine the beauty we'd be able to enjoy without all the light pollution. Still, that would also mean giving up a lot, including safety. Some places are just better off lit up unfortunately, especially the homocide capital of the United States! (At least we were last time I checked...) Light pollution really is just one more thing that gets in the way of us remembering our place in the universe and how beautiful it is out there. Even areas that I consider to be the "middle of no where" have light pollution. Here's a good article about it, from Wired. Check out the Bortle Scale to get a better idea of where your area falls in the light pollution category. Yet one more reason to turn those lights out when you aren't around...

Is this blog sappy? Sorry. I think space is pretty damn neat.

Pretty depressing. Let's move on to happier talk.

The highlight of the visit was surely their Definiti Space Theater! The screen is a huge dome that goes over and above the seating area, which you view from reclining chairs. The images are spectacular and you really become overtaken by what you see here.

To be able to see actual fragments from space is pretty awesome as well. I remembered hearing about a meteor shower nearby a few years ago, and they had a fragment from it donated by a couple whose house it ripped through in 2003.

We saw lots of old astronomical tools that are on display, too.

An Orrery, showing how planets rotate around the sun.
An old sundial.
18th Century Turkish Pillar sundial

Astronomer's rings, used to locate stars in the sky.

Another very old sundial. Isn't it exquisite?
A Celestral Sphere, c.1650

Did you know you could use your hands as sundials? The left hand is for the morning, the right hand for afternoon and evening.

We saw so many other exhibits and learned a lot of interesting facts as well. Did you know that in medievil times, March was considered the beginning of the year?  That the moon is 1/4 the earth's size? (I thought it was smaller.) That the sun is 109 times the earth's diameter? That solar winds are the causes of auroras (i.e. Northern Lights)? Now you do!

Landing capsule, Gemini XII. (Interior) 
Just outside the cafe area.

We had a great time and saw lots of cool stuff!

I love my home town.
 I'll reiterate. You should definitely go to The Adler Planetarium, especially to see their Definite Space Theater. No visit there is complete without some freeze dried ice cream though! Leave without it and you can consider it a half wasted trip. (Ok- maybe not that extreme.)

Until next time!

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At March 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM , Blogger Trisha said...

I'm laughing so hard right now.....the icecream!!! That is the one thing I always get there!!! (and when we go to the MSI too)
My girls thought I was joking about it, and now they love it too :)

At March 22, 2011 at 4:23 PM , Blogger ohkeeka said...

Believe it or not, I have never been to the Adler Planetarium! I suck.

I love this post--you should do more like this! It doesn't always have to be a project or a recipe, it's just nice hearing about what people are up to, you know?

I like all the kids w/ the "I'll use candles from now on." Little liars! Ha ha.

At March 23, 2011 at 8:20 PM , Blogger Hungrigyrl said...

The planetarium trip sounds pretty cool! I have never been to Chicago, but have always wanted to go. Someday. I'm in CA and we didn't see the Supermoon either, due to bad weather and poor visibility. Guess we'll have to wait quite a while for the next one!


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