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Take a trip to the stars at these science museums

See artifacts from NASA space missions at unique science museums and visit one of the Midwest’s most notable planetariums.

Adler Planetarium Chicago
Adler Planetarium, Chicago (Credit: Nick Ulivieiri)

You don’t have to leave the ground to learn about space science and exploration when you’re in Mississippi River Country. At museums and other notable sites throughout the region, you’ll discover artifacts from decades of space exploration—you can even peek through a powerful telescope that’s open to the public.

Adler Planetarium, Illinois

An iconic sight on the shores of Lake Michigan, Adler Planetarium in Chicago is a public museum that’s part of the city’s Museum Campus (along with the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum). Easily recognizable by its Art Deco architecture, Adler Planetarium has been welcoming guests for 90 years and features exhibits on the solar system, NASA’s missions to the moon, and more. Adler Planetarium is also home to Doane Observatory, home to the largest telescope open to the public in the Chicagoland area.

INFINITY Science Center, Mississippi

This fun, interactive science museum in far southwestern Mississippi—about a 45-minute drive from New Orleans—also serves as the welcome center for NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center. INFINITY’s Space Gallery is home to illuminating displays and exhibits, including the Apollo 4 command module and the Saturn V first-stage rocket that was scheduled to be used in the cancelled Apollo 19 mission to the moon.

Museum of Science & Industry, Illinois

Head to the lower level of this engaging and enlightening museum in Chicago to find the Henry Crown Space Center, which features a real Apollo mission space capsule, interactive exhibits and more.

EAA AirVenture Museum, Wisconsin

This museum at the site of America’s largest airshow (held in Oshkosh every summer) features several interesting exhibits, including a full-size replica of SpaceShipOne.

The Space Museum & Grissom Center, Missouri

Named for Gus Grissom, this museum in Bonne Terre south of St. Louis is home to unique exhibits like space suits, scale models and space rocks.