Investigating the Mysteries of Our Universe

by Alexander Pei

The most exciting phenomena in our universe are black holes. They are a mystery to mankind, hiding its secrets inside of it. That is how I described my experience at Adler Planetarium. I did not know what I expected until I discovered all the information that waited inside.

I visited the Adler Planetarium on Monday August 5, 2013 at around 4:30 PM. At this time, there was a special event called the Community Bash where I watched Junior Research Scientists present their nanotariums and presentations on the constellations of our night sky.

The front of the museum was inviting, a large, domed building creates all sorts of wonderment. I walked into the building to get my admission. The staff was polite, and they kindly gave me general admission for free because I am a CPS student. At this time, the museum was not very busy, probably due to the day and the hour.

Adler Planetarium did a great job of appealing to multiple age groups. Upon entering the actual exhibits, I was immediately captivated by the beauty of the exhibits. The first one I saw was the Solar System exhibit that explained the planets of our solar system. Each panel contained detailed descriptions of our planets as well as interesting facts and history about the planets. I examined each of the panels, squeezing out every bit of information that I could. The panels contain information that is interesting to the public and are not too complicated to understand. The language of the panel can be understood by most who read them without being too basic. The graphic representations of the planets themselves are beautiful and high quality.

The next exhibit I saw was the Planet Explorer which was an interactive exhibit that simulated life on Earth and some of the other planets. Activities in this area included controlling rovers to move rocks. I had to put myself in the perspective of a young kid to thoroughly enjoy this exhibit. The Solar System exhibit seemed to target older visitors due to the large amount of reading and understanding required, while this exhibit catered to kids. This area was filled with places to run around and hide, as well as many buttons to push. Adler Planetarium did a very good job of satisfying a large spectrum of ages with their exhibits.

Another experience that I had was interacting with the activity carts that explained different types of science. For example, a staff person demonstrates a hands-on activity that shows viewers a plasma globe and allowing them to use magnets to change the filaments (which look like little lightning bolts) inside of the globe. I was engaged with a demonstration of a vacuum chamber and was impressed by the knowledge of the person presenting. Not only did I learn a little bit about vacuums and pressure, I learned that Adler Planetarium chooses qualified employees that understand the content that they are teaching.

As I descended into the lower levels of the Adler Planetarium, my attention was immediately captured by the beautiful lights in the darkness. The first exhibit that I saw was the Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time, which discusses the Big Bang theory. Adler Planetarium utilizes amazing projection effects and sound effects to simulate an environment that the visitor has never seen before. The hallway was pulsating red and blue and booming with sounds that I found to be wonderful. I enjoyed very much the content of the Big Bang theory, opening my eyes to the vastness of our universe.

While the mystery of the black hole still lingers in my mind, I managed to make a discovery of my own. I learned about the Adler Planetarium and astronomy. Overall, my experience at the Adler Planetarium was amazing. The planetarium does an excellent job of involving all groups of ages and creating an amazing environment that makes Astronomy very enjoyable. I would like to see the Adler Planetarium add activity stations explain in detail the Theory of General Relativity, because the display that they have now is difficult to understand.


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