Adler After Dark

Living in Chicago, there are certain events that everyone you know has either gone to or has a friend that’s gone. Examples include Lollapalooza, an architecture boat tour, and Adler After Dark.

Taking place at the Adler Planetarium after hours on the third Thursday of each month, the planetarium hosts a 21+ ticketed, themed evening with open access to space shows, live entertainment, and cocktails. Our night’s theme was “Solar Eclipse of the Heart.” They allegedly never repeat themes to ensure each month’s event has a unique twist.

As this was both of our first trips to the planetarium, we weren’t exactly sure of what to expect. Upon entrance, we were greeted in a room filled with space memorabilia, attendees donning bright colors and too much hairspray, and the sounds of an eighties cover band jamming to a Bonnie Tyler song. Not exactly a bad way to start!

After checking out some of the exhibits, we started noticing a number of people walking past us with bright pink drinks that appeared to be smoking. Need! We found a place in line at one of the numerous bars throughout the museum and ordered two of these tequila beverages that included a few cubes of dry ice, which made the drinks bubble and smoke. Seems appropriate that they used science to make a fun cocktail for us to drink while we upped our space knowledge at the same time, right?

Even early on, the main floor was filled with guests dancing and enjoying the band. They were decked out in bright pastel suits and played some of the best hits the 80’s had to offer.

While watching the band, we worked our way through the main floor and decided to hop in a long line we weren’t sure what was for. After a few minutes, we realized that we were in line to win ice cream! Upon reaching the front of the line, we stepped up to a screen scrolling through flavors of ice cream in the fashion of a slot machine, tapped the screen, and were awarded with the flavors we landed on (chocolate, and more chocolate). Best part? Everyone’s a winner.

We ate our ice cream on the terrace, and enjoyed one of the best sunset views in the city. If you have never seen the city at sunset or at night from the north side of Northerly Island, we highly recommend it.

Post brain freezes, we headed to one of the many shows that were offered throughout the evening. We chose a show about prominent constellations you can see from the Chicago night sky and the stories behind them. The live narrator for our show kept us laughing and learning as we felt fully immersed in the projections of the night sky on the dome above us.

And to wrap up the evening, we walked over to our tour of Doane Observatory: the largest aperture telescope available to the public in the Chicagoland area. With this, for an additional fee (which must be purchased at the time you buy tickets), you’re able to tour the facility and take a close-up peep of the night sky with a small group of people. Because it was a cloudy evening, there unfortunately wasn’t much for us to see, but it was still a cool experience that we would probably pay for again if (when!) we go back to another Adler After Dark.

Any night including 80’s music, fun cocktails, and an excuse to dress up is a good evening. But when you throw in some space stuff, a killer view, and the opportunity to learn a few new things? Simply out of this world.


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