Chicago . . . we have a problem. A spaceship has landed at Adler Planetarium, but the aliens are no where to be found. Before their little green faces are slapped on the back of a milk carton, help Adler solve the missing alien mystery. Read on to hear how your Squad Commander will lead you on a sleepover adventure of a lifetime at Adler’s Astro-Overnight: Expedition E.T.

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What to expect when you’re expecting a sleepover at Adler
Anyone who’s watched Night at the Museum harbors secret fantasies of seeing what goes on after the lights go out a museum. Now’s your chance! Not only do you get unlimited access to explore all the exhibits and experiences Adler has to offer, you get to use your science sleuthing skills to learn more about enigmatic extraterrestrials. Overnighters ages 6-12 (and their family) will solve a unique mystery through a variety of programs, sky shows — one exclusive to Astro-Overnight guests! — and more.

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Top off your energy source
No need to grab grub before your sleepover — let Adler handle the night’s menu. For an additional $11 per person, you can have a personal cheese pizza, chocolate chip cookies and a fountain drink ready when you land at the museum. Pizza not your thing? No worries, Galileo’s Café is open 5 p.m.-8 p.m. during Astro-Overnights with several menu options and a pretty sweet city view.

Included in admission is an evening snack of fresh fruit or a cookie and water and milk. Note: every effort is made to make sure there are nut-free and gluten-free options available, but please make sure you check labels if there’s an allergy.

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Supplies required to be an effective galactic detective

  • Sleeping bag, sleeping mat or twin-sized air mattress (nothing bigger than a twin, please) with battery-operated pump. Army cots are cool, too.
  • Comfy shoes
  • Depending on weather, you may end up outside with a telescope, so layer up
  • Pocket money for the souvenir shop; Tip: There’s an overnighter badge available
  • Toiletries should be kept to a minimum as changing space is limited to the restroom facilities

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Lock in your date
Registration is now open for the 2017 overnights scheduled for March 3, March 10, April 7, May 5 and June 2. They sell out fast, so don’t wait too long! Check-in for the overnight is 5 p.m. on Friday and you’ll wrap up the fun at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

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The tab for this priceless family time
A night at the museum is $60 per person ($55 for members or groups of 15 or more). There is a late-over option for those who’d rather snuggle in their own beds at home. Evening-only guests come from 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. for $30 per person ($27.50 for members or groups of 15 or more). For a truly magical experience, there is a $70 per person VIP option to sleep under the stars in the Grainger Sky Theater. Note: Parking is not covered for this event, so plan on paying an additional $22.

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Other star-gazing options
Adler is well-known for their adults-only After Dark program that runs the third Thursday of every month from 6 p.m.-10 p.m., offering open access, unlimited shows and unique themed entertainment. Because of the popularity of that program, they’ve created a family friendly version, Adler After Dark: Family Edition. Visitors can expect the same unlimited access to exhibits and galleries, sky shows and Doane Observatory (weather permitting), as well as a museum-wide scavenger hunt, special hands-on programming, live entertainment and a signature kiddie and adult cocktail bar. The next date is scheduled for Friday, February 3, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m.  This will sell out, so book soon.

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Wait, we’re not finished! Movie lovers can introduce their kids to childhood favorites, like Spaceballs, Fifth Element and Contact, with Adler’s REEL Science Film Series programming. Ever wondered what warp drive might feel like? REEL Science answers questions like this and those that you never thought to ask. It combines cinematic favorites with science conversations about the film. Movies are scheduled in the Johnson Star Theater for January 12, February 9 and March 9. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the night begins with pre-movie trivia and ends around 9:30 p.m. after a post-show talk with Adler Astronomers.

Adler is always adding new, creative ways to explore science. Check their Events page often to stay in the know.

Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Museum Campus
Online: adlerplanetarium.org

Have you had a sleepover at Adler? We’d love to hear about it in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers

photos courtesy of Adler Planetarium