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I can vividly recall the looks on the playgroup moms faces when I told them I booked an outing for us to take our twenty toddlers and preschoolers to the local planetarium for a family showing of George & Oatmeal Save Santa. I have seen the look many times over the years when I suggest new adventures for our group. The look that needs no words but clearly says, “Have you lost your mind!” I was certain that a group of educators who are trained to work with children would not let me down. We proceeded to file into our theater seats, in the rounded dome at Waubonsie Valley High School, with our rambunctious and energetic children and waited for the show to begin. As soon as the lights went dark and the dome above us filled with stars, it was silent for the next 30 minutes as the kids watched Santa being saved! This is one of the 7 monthly Family Nights offered at the school’s planetarium.

The events run from October through April and offer a different theme night each month. October was Early Manned Space flights, November was Planets, and December offers a holiday show for the seasons with George & Oatmeal Saving Santa. November brings Native American Sky Stories of images and stories created out of stars, while February shares the Curiosity of Mars. In March you can go Constellation Hopping and April hosts Summer Stargazing inside for the first hour and a telescope party afterwards outside. Enjoy an experience like no other using telescopes setup by the Naperville Astronomical Association (weather permitting).

Every event is geared to a family atmosphere and is first-come, first serve. Although yes, these are educational and perhaps less active adventures than I typically write about – the glow of the bright stars in the dark planetarium engage your senses and the music and audio enhance the visual experience for everyone – even those little tikes that usually have trouble sitting still. At $2 per seat, even the largest family can enjoy the evening out. Each session typically lasts approximately one hour from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., except for the April event which begins at 7 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m. if you choose to attend the telescope party as well. Events are not just for families – everyone is welcome to attend any show. - Kristen Kucharski


The WVHS Planetarium

2590 Ogden Avenue

Aurora, IL 60504


Hours: 7 p.m. Showtime

Prices: $2 per seat, Small children on laps are free

Description: Family nights are a monthly program at the high school planetarium with varying theme nights. You will never see the same program twice!

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