Curious About the Universe? Board the Bus to Adler Planetarium!

 Hubble Space Telescope composite image from Hubblesite

Hubble Space Telescope finds rings of dark matter — part of the “Cosmic Wonder” show at Adler Planetarium.

by Pat McFarland

I love driving down a road with a canopy of trees overhead and looking at the beautiful summer shadows they cast. Seldom do I think about what’s above those trees besides clouds. Everyone’s schedule is so crowded and distracting that it’s hard to think about anything except the next 45 things we need to get done before dinner.

During one such day, as I tried to calm my irritation at a driver who had just cut into my lane, I remembered reading a self-help suggestion which went like this: Gravity is holding you on this one continent, which is on this one planet, which is in this solar system, which is only one of millions in this universe and you REALLY want to get bent out of shape by another “earthling’s” rudeness?

Other than calming me down, it did start me thinking about this mysterious sky of ours and what’s in it.

KICP Associate Fellow Daniel Grin

Our tour guide, Daniel Grin.

To be honest, I have always had some interest in this stuff anyway. The fact that as I sit here typing, planets have started being born, gigantic stars are exploding and just maybe another civilization is moving forward or ending, really does change my perspective. These are some of the reasons I have been excited about the Astrophysics for All Lecture Series at Sulzer Library.

Sponsored by the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago, Sulzer Public Library and Forward Chicago, the series is presented by scientists who help us understand their work exploring outer space — like using a baking loaf of raisin bread to explain the universe.

I can’t say I understand everything they tell us, but what I have learned makes me think about the “universe and me” more often. The next presentation will be Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 6:30 p.m. at Sulzer Library.

But wait, there’s more! Join us on a trip to the Adler Planetarium on Thursday, Sept. 3, for an all-day experience!

We will have our own personal tour guide, Daniel Grin, who received his Ph.D. in astrophysics from California Institute of Technology and is now a KICP associate fellow and National Science Foundation astronomy and astrophysics fellow.

The cost is $10, which covers the bus ride and museum entrance fee. Bring or buy lunch there.

Below is our schedule, compiled by Daniel. It looks to be a great time. Call 773-633-8312 to reserve your spot!

Adler Planetarium Tour Schedule: Thursday, Sept. 3

8:50-9:10 a.m.: Assemble at Sulzer library and board bus when it arrives (a big yellow school bus, how fun!). Get show packets and optional question sheets from me.

9:15-9:45 a.m.: Travel to the Adler Planetarium. Use this time to hear some introductory material from me on the bus. If time remains, sing a merrye round of “Hail to the Postdoc”!

9:45-10 a.m.: Go to accessible entrance to Adler and collect tickets.

10-11:30 a.m.: Enjoy short presentations in the Space Visualization Lab.

11:30 a.m.: If time remains after the Visualization Lab, I will walk us all through the cosmology exhibit.

12:10 p.m.: Line up near Grainger Sky Theatre for planetarium show.

12:30-1 p.m.: Enjoy the planetarium show “Cosmic Wonder.”

1-3:10 p.m.: Lunch and museum exploration at leisure (plan to bring or buy lunch on site).

3:10-3:30 p.m.: Assemble in front to board bus back to Sulzer library.


Forward Chicago, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, envisions our neighborhoods as model communities for people of all ages, where residents can age in place while remaining active, engaged and influential.

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