June 2007 Jun 7, 2007 20:46:15 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 7, 2007 20:46:15 GMT -6
Adler's 'Night Sky' show feels like school
Maybe it was the exclamation point at the end of the name. Or maybe it was the press release, which described Adler Planetarium's "Night Sky Live!" show as "live, dynamic and seasonal," but I walked into this show expecting something exciting, maybe even edgy.
So what a disappointment when I settled into the dark, cool Sky Theater for 35 minutes, only to feel alternately like napping and like I was back in my college astronomy class.
This feeling only intensified when the speaker threw out questions -- classroom style -- about which I had no clue, even if most of the other people in the audience did. Ahhh ... more flashbacks to college.
That said, there were some cool take-homes from the lecture. Much of Jupiter, we learn, is not solid but rather gaseous or squishy. Plus, there is something called "the Pluto debate" going on that has nothing to do with why he doesn't get to wear pants while Goofy does. No, this debate focuses on whether Pluto is really a planet. And the lecturer offers some smart things to say if it ever comes up in conversation.
My personal dumbness aside, the show does suffer from a few technical liabilities. I mean, how -- in this age of high-tech, special effects-laden presentations at museums -- is a live lecture using a Mark IV Zeiss projector from the 1970s not going to feel a little retro?
For those seeking nostalgia, one of the coolest things about this show is that it can easily take Chicagoans back to those Chicago Public School field trips to the planetarium decades ago. It also takes you to celestial places that cannot be seen with the naked eye, as well as to views of the night sky that you'd see if you lived in the North Pole.
Here are some other things I learned from "Night Sky Live!":
*Constellations aren't entirely static. According to our humorous live host, the constellations we saw during the presentations will only be good for the next few thousand years or so. After that, he said, we'd need to come back for an update.
*What we call the North Star is really Polaris.
*The meaning of "exo-planet" (other planets in orbit around stars).
*When two galaxies collide, they create more stars.
*$19 feels like a lot to pay to see this 35-minute show if you don't have time to explore the rest of the planetarium.
"Night Sky Live!", daily at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.; $14-$19. Adler Planetarium, 1300 Lake Shore Drive; 312-922-STAR, adlerplanetarium.org.