The Adler Planetarium


"That's one small step for leap for mankind."

How appropriate that on Monday--the 40th anniversary of our landing on the moon--Brock and I went to the Adler Planetarium! :) Space is something I've always been fascinated with. Had I been blessed with a more mathematical mind, I probably would have sought to be an astronaut. I'm dead serious about that. But I'm the girl who got a C+ in Physics 121 and pees her pants at the thought of calculus. Oh, well! :)

Both Brock and I had never been to a planetarium before, so we were pretty excited to go here. And let me tell you, it was so cool! They had an entire exhibit on America's lunar travels and boy, did it make me long for the "good old days" when the entire nation was captivated with the space race. What a fun time that must have been! It seems like nothing impresses us anymore, doesn't it? For example, last night the pitcher for the White Sox pitched a perfect game. A perfect game! And nobody is even talking about it! (To put things in perspective, there have only been 18 perfect games in all of baseball's history, and thousands of games are played each season!)

But enough of my old-fogey rants. Back to the story! I really loved the space exhibit because I walked away from it feeling so proud of America and the type of men that she produces. I'd always had a respect for those men of the space race, but after learning more about them--wow. They were nuts! Not only were they sickeningly smart, but they seriously had no sense of fatal danger whatsoever. For example, when Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo 11 lunar module on the moon, he looked outside and saw that where he was supposed to land was strewn with boulders. So he took semi-automatic control of the LM, cut radio signal, and went totally off course to land somewhere else. Obviously, everybody as Mission Control was FREAKING OUT, because the LM's fuel was rapidly going down and they had no way of knowing what was going on. Aldrin kept himself calm, cool and collected, landing with 15 seconds' worth of fuel left. Can you imagine that?! Knowing that if you mess up, you will crash into the moon, destroy the lunar module, and die a slow, painful death of starvation millions of miles away from home?! This is why men fly to the moon. If it were up to me (or any other woman!) we would pee our pants and cry because we actually think about our lives when we do dangerous things. Men treat it like a game of Nintendo! (Ooh! Jump here, press forward here, move to the side...awesome! We're on the moon! On to level 2.)

Yeah, so like I said, that exhibit really made me respect the lunar astronauts, cosmonauts, and physicists on a whole new level. Guess what they had in the exhibit! The Gemini XII! That was the 1966 manned spacecraft that was flown into Earth's high orbit, where Buzz Aldrin completed the first successful spacewalk at the end of a tether! I couldn't believe that it was actually there! That what was two feet in front of me had proven to NASA that man could maneuver successfully in space! Do you even know how cool that is?! You could even see the scars that the intense heat of atmosphere re-entry had left on the outside of the module! Aaaaahh I love space!!!!!!!

Guess what else we saw? Jim Lovell's space suit, helmet, and gloves! Annnnd the ripped flight manual from Apollo 13! (If you remember from the movie, Jim Lovell had to rip the cover off it it to help make a carbon dioxide filter.) We also saw a 4.5 billion year-old moon rock (no big deal) and even got to touch a piece of the moon! The moon!! :) :) :)

On the way out of the exhibit, there was this wall that said "I want to be the first ____ on the moon." And then there were sticky notes and pencils so that little kids could write their moon dreams down and stick them on the wall. It was so cute :) Dozens of sticky notes in little-kid-scrawl saying things like "I want to be the first dog", "The first president", "The first singer" and so forth. But--of course--there are always those people who have major chips on their shoulder and can't help but vent their feelings in the most inappropriate of venues. We saw certain sticky notes (in adult handwriting) that read "I want to be the first Messiah", "The first Communist (not kidding)", "The first Nazi", "To legalize equal rights to marriage for all people, gay or straight, across the nation". It's like come on, guys! This wall is painted in bright primary colors and has cartoon space cadets painted on it! Probably not the place for you to vent your political frustrations. Ugh. People are so stupid. But don't worry, we took those sticky notes down :) They now reside on our living room wall. We look at them whenever we need a good laugh at other people's idiocy :)

To be honest, all the other exhibits kind of paled in comparison to the moon one. I already kind of knew all the information presented in the other exhibits (the fact that I had just come off of two semesters of GE classes in geology, physical science and astronomy certainly helped!). The planetarium was kind of geared towards little kids who actually still have their lives before them by which to influence the exploration of the cosmos. Me? I'm already in college and not majoring in engineering, physics, or astronomy, so I guess the cause is lost on me :)

Brock and I saw two really cool shows at the planetarium (each about 20 min long). The first was called Cosmic Collisions, which basically took a look at the effect that collisions have in our universe. For example, did you know that our moon was formed by a cosmic collision? At least, that's the current theory. An asteroid the size of Mars hit the Earth and caused huge chunks of rock to break off! These chunks end up orbiting around earth, and within the course of one month they had all melded together and formed the moon!

The other show was saw was in this huge domed room. They darkened the room completely, told us to close our eyes, and when we opened them the entire night sky was on display on the ceiling above us! Awesome :) We learned all about constellations in that presentation.

All in all: the planetarium was rad. (Warning: this review may be skewed by the fact that free slices of cake were given away at 3:17pm, to commemorate man's landing on the moon 40 years ago.)

And I would be lying if I said that this trip didn't inspire us to go to Blockbuster and rent "Apollo 13." Which we promptly did :)


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