I journeyed to the stars tonight

and it was really foggy on the way home

05/22/2010 0:12 AM

By Bonnie McGrath

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Went to the members' opening of the new Adler Planetarium sky show tonight: Journey to the Stars, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi does a great job explaining what happened a few million years after the Big Bang--when dark matter swirled around and created stars and elements, the sun, the solar system, the Milky Way and all the other galaxies in the universe--and eventually, 13-plus billion years later, us. The overhead sky show transported us first-nighters through dense packs of stars--and actual images of the sun up-close.

Afterwards, an astronomer who's worked for Adler for decades and who had a look and a personality more like a game show host than a scientist answered questions from young and old--and really did a great job answering everything off the top of his head. For instance, to get a good view of the stars these days, he said, do what he does: travel at least 45 miles in any direction from Chicago, and then wait at least 15 to 20 minutes to let your eyes adjust on a moonless night--and you will see them.

He also said simply and humbly that the Adler needs members. And that the Adler tries to make it's members feel appreciated and paid attention to. And to encourage people to become members like us. I vowed I would tell people to join.

I've said before that nothing beats our neighborhood planetarium as a way to get away from it all. Tonight, after going back to the beginning of time, I stepped outside to walk home. A dense fog had descended over the lake, the museum campus and the sky line of the South Loop. It was beautiful and eerie and quiet--and the perfect atmosphere in which to reflect on the insignificance of my existence in the vastness of space and time.

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