Something you may not know about planetariums is that you can go to them without ever actually seeing any stars. While the Illinois resident free admission lets you see some cool fish and crazily patterned string rays and even some pretty plants at the aquarium, at the planetarium, you’re only able to look at some information about planets and telescopes.
It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the worker who, out of loneliness, told me about the largest telescope ever built (which inevitably was later surpassed). And it’s not like I couldn’t appreciate the educational activities for the numerous schoolchildren there yesterday (though it felt like the time I went to Disneyland alone and accidentally rode a children’s ride by myself). But, ever since I saw the Friends episode when Ross brings Rachel to the planetarium for a romantic moment and a booming voice yells out, “Billions of years ago…” I had a vision of what the planetarium would be like.
Granted, I could have seen something other than plastic models of planets if I had been willing to shell out the extra money for the 3D shows. I could have gone into Chicago’s oldest planetarium sphere if I had been willing to part with $6 (the poor woman sitting in front of it really wanted me to so she could actually do something, I could tell).
So I’m not complaining, since it’s partially my fault. But it did make me wonder whether I would ever have a reason to pay money to go to museums and kid-focused cultural institutions. Will I ever be in a position to show my own children the neon fish at the aquarium? Will I ever be able to play with the plastic planet models without looking like a weirdo adult who’s at the planetarium by herself?
All signs from the universe are currently pointing to no, but little does the universe know, I can always just take my nephew. (The universe isn’t very bright–brainpower-wise, I mean).