Adler Skywatcher’s Guide

Whether observing in the night sky with your eyes or seeing a distant world through a telescope, take some time to look up and remember that Space Is Freaking Awesome!

The Universe is More Than 90 Billion Light Years Across. It's a Lot to Take In.

The city of Chicago is a far more manageable 26 miles from Howard Street to 138th. But how much of it have you really seen?

Explore your Universe AND your city with the Adler Planetarium’s 2018 Skywatcher’s Guide! You’ll find a new celestial object (and a different neighborhood) to discover for every month of the year.

These objects may be visible from elsewhere in the city, but we recommend riding the train to these spots, spending quality time in neighborhoods you don’t visit often, and making new friends under the stars.

See you out there!

CTA Map | Skywatcher's Guide 2018


CTA Red, Orange, Green Lines: Roosevelt
1521 S. Linn White Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

All month, starting around 6:30 pm

Orion the Hunter is easy to spot in winter. Starting around 6:30 pm, face southeast and look for three bright stars in a line. Two bright stars are to the upper left of the line, and two more are to the lower right. This is the famous hunter—although he looks more like a sideways bow tie. Orion will be prominent in the sky for the rest of the winter & into early spring.


CTA Green Line: 95th/Dan Ryan
9501 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60619

All month, starting around 6:30 pm

Remember our friend Orion from January? He’s a little higher in the sky after sunset this month. After sunset, face south-southeast and find Orion’s belt again. Follow the belt stars up and to the right, and the next bright star you will see is called Aldebaran (al-DEB-uh-rahn), part of Taurus the Bull. Follow the belt stars down and to the left, and you’ll have no trouble spotting Sirius (SEER-ee-us), part of the constellation of Canis Major, the Big Dog.

03 | MARCH

CTA Blue Line: California
9501 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60619

March 20, 7:00 pm

Enjoy sunset directly to the west on the first day of spring— the only one of two days during the year when the Sun sets due west. Eagle-eyed skywatchers might also spot bright Venus low in the west just after sunset, with dimmer Mercury a little to Venus’ right. In case of inclement weather, March 21 or 22 will also provide good views of the sunset.

04 | APRIL

CTA Red, Orange, Green Lines: Roosevelt
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

April 21-22

Join us at the Adler Planetarium for Earthfest—a whole weekend of activities dedicated to celebrating our favorite home planet! A highlight will be your chance to see the Sun safely through our telescopes from 10:00 am–1:00 pm.

05 | MAY

CTA Brown Line: Western
4630 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625

All month, just after sunset

What’s that bright thing low in the west just after sunset? The planet Venus! Watch it throughout the month.

06 | JUNE

CTA Pink Line: 18th Street
1852 W. 19th Street, Chicago, IL 60608

June 15-30, 9:00 pm

Visit the beautiful Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago—and don’t miss the National Museum of Mexican Art. At 9 pm, head to Harrison Park and face south. About a third of the way up in the sky will be a bright object—this is Jupiter, King of the Planets!

07 | JULY

CTA Orange Line: Halsted
2825 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60608

July 31, starting at 8:15 pm

Just after sunset, spot bright Venus setting in the west, and starting around 10-10:30 pm, see orange-colored Mars to the southeast as it is at its closest to Earth since 2003—just 36 million miles away.


CTA Red Line: Loyola
1050 W. Albion Avenue, Chicago, IL 60626

August 11/12, evening through early morning

Head to the beach, face east, and look up. See any bright, quick streaks of light moving outward from this part of the sky? These are meteors! The Perseid meteor shower happens each year when Earth runs into the trail of debris left by a comet. While it’s always better to go out where it is much darker, you may see a small handful of bright meteors per hour under more light-saturated urban skies.


CTA Red Line: Cermak-Chinatown
2154 S. Archer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616

September 24, starting around 9:00 pm

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people on the date of Full Moon during the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Head to Chinatown to take in the festival and then see the Full Moon after about 9:00 pm.


CTA Orange Line: Midway
5825 S. Kostner Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608

October 14, 17, and 18, after sunset

Just after sunset on October 14, 17, and 18, see the Moon as it appears close to two planets in the sky. Just after sunset on October 14, face southwest. The crescent Moon will be just to the right, or west, of the planet Saturn. On October 17, the gibbous Moon—a bit larger this time—is to the right/west of orange-colored Mars. On October 18, the Moon is a little larger still and is to the left/east of Mars.


CTA Green Line: Garfield
740 E. 56th Place, Chicago, IL 60637

All month, after sunset

Visit the DuSable Museum of African American History during the day. After it closes, head into Washington Park. After sunset, face west and look about halfway up in the sky. Do you see three bright stars in the shape of a large triangle? There will be two stars on the right side, one above the other, and one star to the left. This is a group called the Summer Triangle—even though one of the best times to see it is in the fall! These three stars are part of three separate constellations, but the triangle is the easiest shape to see.


CTA Green Line: Conservatory-Central Park Drive
300 N. Central Park Avenue, Chicago, IL 60624

All month, 5:30 pm

Walk outside, face south at about 5:30 pm, and look almost overhead. See 4 stars in the shape of a large square? These are the stars of Pegasus! Look for the star on the lower left, or southeast part, of the square. The light that you see from this star left it over 300 years ago—when several of the oldest specimens in the Conservatory, the Cycads, were very young trees. On Wednesday nights, you can visit them at the Conservatory, too!

Download PDF copy of the 2018 Skywatcher’s Guide.