Adler Planetarium

Cosmic Wonder Press Kit


Experience the Night Sky Like Never Before at the Adler
Cosmic Wonder Brings the Universe So Close You Can Almost Touch It!

Take an exciting journey of discovery as the world’s most technologically advanced dome theater transforms into a virtual observatory. In Cosmic Wonder, opening May 17, 2013 at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, visitors are invited to look up! The night sky reveals the mysteries of the Universe in the most immersive space environment ever created. Cosmic Wonder will run daily through April 1, 2014.

Presented as a live show, Cosmic Wonder tells the compelling story of how, through time, we have pieced together an understanding of the cosmos, inviting audiences to ask questions and help scientists unlock modern mysteries of the unknown.

Throughout time, humans have connected with the cosmos in an ongoing cycle of wonder, observation, and discovery. As we observe and form an understanding of our cosmos, leading-edge technology allows audiences to experience the night sky like never before, bringing the Universe to you so close you can almost touch it.

“Wondering about the Universe we live in is inherent to who we are as human beings,” said Michelle B. Larson, Ph.D., Adler President and CEO. “Our ancestors looked up at the same night sky thousands of years ago, and today we are still compelled as much as ever to ask questions and search for answers.  Science is not about memorizing a bunch of facts. It is a very active and exciting process.  You observe things, you wonder about them, and then you try and solve the mysteries. Cosmic Wonder invites visitors to be part of this ongoing process of discovery.”

Cosmic Wonder begins with a naked eye tour of the night sky. From a true dark night sky in Yosemite Valley, audiences travel back in time three hundred years to Jaipur, India to explore an ancient observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh, who was inspired by the wonders of the night sky. Inventions like telescopes improved how humans viewed the night sky, which led to even better tools that furthered discoveries. Over time, instruments have evolved with modern devices such as the Hubble Space Telescope, advancing space exploration in ways our ancestors would have never dreamed possible.  This continuing human drive to observe and discover pushes advancements in technology that will help us solve existing mysteries and reveal new ones.

Cosmic Wonder takes visitors on a thrilling, visual adventure through a familiar night sky to explore distant and less familiar places. Using constellations as a road map, audiences will explore the night sky like never before. Presented on the world’s largest single digital image in ultra high definition, Cosmic Wonder utilizes special effects only available in the state-of-the-art Grainger Sky Theater. Leading-edge technology allows visitors to witness the breathtaking beauty of the Crab Nebula as it descends, coming so close you can almost touch it. Zoom into Orion the Hunter and become bathed in a hotbed of active star formation. Zero in on a small patch of the night sky as you are surrounded by the Hubble Extreme Deep Field image containing more than 5,500 galaxies.

“The Grainger Sky Theater is the most technologically advanced dome theater in the world that displays space images in the highest resolution possible. By combining that technology with the World Wide Telescope software from Microsoft Research, the Adler has fundamentally devised a new way to use a planetarium,” said Mark SubbaRao, Ph.D., Adler astronomer and show creator. “For the first time, audiences will be able to experience the Hubble Space Telescope’s breath-taking imagery in their full resolution and in the real context of space. The public is used to seeing these immense space objects condensed into tiny images on their computer screens. In Cosmic Wonder, Adler audiences will zoom into these massive astronomical objects where they will be fully immersed and can truly experience the immensity and grandeur of our Universe.”

The Adler Planetarium gratefully acknowledges The Grainger Foundation for its leadership in transforming the historic Sky Theater.

Cosmic Wonder is presented by Bing.

Adler Collections

The Adler’s Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy features one of the world’s most important collections of scientific instruments, works on paper, and books relating to astronomy. Cosmic Wonder features stunning star charts and other important historic works on paper.  These historic works on paper give insight into some of the earliest ideas about astronomy and how we interpreted the night sky in the past.

Planetary Machines

To complement the show, visitors will have the opportunity to see approximately 20 stunning pieces from the Adler’s renowned collection in the temporary exhibition Planetary Machines.  The objects in this exhibition include two star maps highlighted in Cosmic Wonder.   Visitors will also have the rare opportunity to view the oldest tabletop planetarium in the world. Planetary Machines opens May 17 and continues through August 23.

Citizen Science

To better understand dark matter, we need to discover more gravitational lenses.  To do that, we need you!  The Adler invites the public to join in the excitement of discovery and help scientists with important research by taking part in one of the museum’s Citizen Science initiatives. The Adler’s next citizen science project is Space Warps, which asks for the public’s help in finding gravitational lenses in deep space. Space Warps launches in early May.  

Cosmic Wonder Image Gallery

Cosmic Wonder Fun Facts

Media Contact

Molly O'Connell
Director of Museum Communications