Published in The DePaulia: Monday, October 3, 2011
For the Adler Planetarium, the sky is not the limit. And there’s no better way to understand this than spending some time at the museum at night.
Thursday, Sept. 15, was the planetarium’s second anniversary of the after-hours event “Adler After Dark.” Held every third Thursday of the month year-round, the planetarium provides live music, food and drinks. Right now the theme is “Harvest Moon.”
On the anniversary date, Die Musikmeisters played in the café and Half Acre Beer Co. held beer tastings. Experts from Northwestern University and Brew Camp walked attendees through the science of brewing beer.
Michael Smutko, an astronomer and director of the observatory, says that although it was an easy decision to make beer part of the theme, the story behind the harvest moon is quite interesting.
“The harvest moon, as the legend goes, was named the harvest moon because it’s the full moon closest to the fall equinox,” Smutko said. “It rises just as the sun is setting, so that extra moonlight gives farmers more time to harvest their crops.”
Whether the beer or the harvest moon draw people in, there’s no doubt that “Adler After Dark” is a relatively popular fall activity among Chicagoans. Almost 20,000 people have attended the event since it first started two years ago.
The Adler Planetarium had an earlier program entitled “Far Out Fridays,” which started about six years prior to “Adler After Dark.” Because it was not as successful as they hoped, the new program was created and a 21-and-over policy was instated.
Their goal is to capture the in-between generation, the one that has forgotten about the planetarium and now has children who could possibly come back for the daytime programs.
The Adler has recently been exploring other options to spread the word about events like this. Their Interactive Media Team, consisting of Angelique Rickhoff, Christina Yang and Gina Avalos, created a TweetUp VIP area for a select few of their Twitter fans. These VIPs were also given gift bags and complimentary food and beverages as incentive to keep tweeting about the planetarium.
“We update all the social media,” Yang said. “We’re constantly using Facebook, Twitter and even updating the website from time to time.”
With growing awareness of “Adler After Dark,” Smutko said that they had to limit the amount of guests visiting the Doane Observatory.
“The Doane Observatory turns out to be so popular that we have to ration tickets for it,” Smutko said. “Tickets for the Doane are of no extra charge, but you just have to reserve your ticket before they run out.”
Lauren Coffaro, the manager of Public Relations and Promotions at the planetarium, said that next month on Oct. 20, the Adler Planetarium will be hosting “‘Spooky Space’ Adler After Dark,” in which attendees will be able to dress in Halloween costumes as well as view the one-night-only “Space Mysteries” show.
“Adler After Dark” allows patrons to “enjoy all access to the museum, music and a cash bar against the spectacular view of the Chicago skyline,” Coffaro said.
A great opportunity to spend some time in the fantastic museum in an entirely different setting than the usual daytime observation, “Adler After Dark” is definitely an event to check out.