Take Me to Your Leader: A Planetarium Welcome Party

Take Me to Your Leader: A Planetarium Welcome Party

It was a cold January night when I donned a silver, Pringle-shaped skirt, a black unitard, swiped on some purple lipstick, and stashed a plastic gun in my waistband. It was all for a work event.

Where in this galaxy could I possibly be going that required a toy gun and purple lipstick?

Well, it was for my first outing since starting at DMC, of course. It was time for my Welcome Party at Chicago's Adler Planetarium!

Each new employee at DMC is welcomed with a party of their choosing, and though aliens are not high on my list, space and astronomy are. So, with the help of DMC's administrative assistants, we planned its most-attended welcome party to date!

Adler After Dark: What's the Deal? 

Every third Thursday of the month, the planetarium hosts a themed evening for those who are 21 and older called Adler After Dark, and January’s theme was It Came From Space!

The evening is a perfect opportunity for science buffs and the young at heart to explore the nooks and crannies of Adler while wearing fun costumes and sipping grown-up drinks. 

There's more to learn at Adler Planetarium than you can see in just one night. The planetarium is home to Doane Observatory, three full size theaters, a collection of antique scientific instruments, and equipment from past space missions!

You can even take a ride inside Chicago's oldest planetarium, the Atwood Sphere. At only 17ft in diameter, you might be surprised to find how small the old planetarium is. The stars drilled into the sides of the sphere reflect the night sky as you could see it from Chicago in 1913.

Alongside its regular exhibits, the planetarium played on the 1950s sci-fi alien craze and educated on the actual search for extraterrestrial life.

Adler had a wide variety of beers brewed on Earth available, along with wine and the night’s signature alien-green cocktail, complete with a piece of dry ice for an eerie, smoke effect. Everyone sampled the specialty drinks and wandered around the museum, taking in all the sights and sounds.

There were plenty of out-of-this-world activities throughout the night. We took photos with a five-foot blow up alien while purple and green lights reflected off the ceiling. A ‘make your own UFO’ station was available, and the special ‘Astronomy on Tap’ exhibit provided information on how to brew beers on each planet.

If the music from DJ Chess Hubbard, lights, and food didn’t fit your astronomical fancy, there were also short films to watch, including Keep Watching the Skies: Aliens & Alien Planets in Science Fiction, Distant Worlds—Alien Life?, and Planet 9. Terrible Spaceship, a "retro-futurist dance band," performed a new soundtrack to the 1966 film Zontar, the Thing from Venus.

Planet 9: Where is That Thing Anyway?

After we'd filled up at Café Galileo's, we met as a group outside the Grainger Sky Theater doors to watch Planet 9 together.

The tall, domed ceiling of the theatre serves as its screens and requires multiple projectors to fully piece together the entire film. The room glowed bright red and orange like a vibrant sunset as our group sat down to learn about Pluto’s demotion from planet to dwarf planet, the icy Kuiper Belt that hosts Pluto and other dwarf planets, and why scientists still believe there is a ninth planet out there that we have yet to discover.

The show was not just educational but also a visual experience, as the domed screen made it feel as if you were enveloped in the endless void of space and swirling planets.

After the film, DMC employees visited the exhibits within the multi-level planetarium. We wandered through an exhibit dedicated to telescopes from over the last 400 years, one with a visual history of how the universe and planets were created, and another with a crash course on Medieval European and Middle Eastern astronomy and tools.

Before leaving, I made sure to visit the main level once more to peruse the section called Our Solar System; each planet has its own station with interesting facts, including the length of its days, how long it takes to travel around the sun, and its average temperature.

Please Come Again

Adler After Dark: It Came from Space! was not only a great introduction to what a DMC event might entail but was also an enjoyable way to get to know my new co-workers in an environment outside of the nine-to-five grind, and I certainly felt welcomed as a new employee.

If anyone is looking for something out of this world to do on a Thursday evening, I would certainly recommend one of Adler Planetarium’s Adler After Dark events. Space gun optional.

Find out what other fun things are going on at DMC.

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