Time: 2-3 hours
Recurrence: Twice a year
This is a very unique Daddy-Daughter Date as the Planetarium is a place you visit in the evening. You thought you could watch stars in the day? Really, when is the last time you did that with blue skies? Just like when you’re sitting around a campfire watching the stars, that is the same time that astronomers are getting THEIR work done. Now, you could go the self-discovery route and do Astronomy on your own (DDD #2) but going to a Planetarium gives you an expert that can show you and your daughter a ton of stuff you would have never figured out on your own.
Planetariums are not all that prominent in Everyday, U.S.A. however. You’re most likely going to need to be traveling to a campus of some sort or metropolitan area to get to one. Do a quick search either via Google for the closest one near you and then check out the website. Many locations have a robust calendar of events that go out for months. Remember, this isn’t as dependent on the season as those stars are out there each and every night. Planetariums are therefore over-zealous planners and running programs each week for months on end. That could mean that you might see the same event if you visit often, but if you’re looking at this blog for this idea, you don’t visit often.
The neat part about these programs is that they are run by a professional. They are an expert on what you’re looking at and the equipment that you’re looking at it through. They’re probably the only person in the group that doesn’t need an app to tell which constellation they are looking at. Most of the programs will run at least an hour, if not two. Some may have a charge if you’re going to be looking through the Planetarium equipment or if it’s a lengthy session, but the fee is usually a couple of dollars. You might have to register ahead of time, so again, check the information on the website. Some programs that are free are simply using telescopes outside the Planetarium. Then, the person running the event is simply giving guidance and maybe giving a few coordinates for points of interest. Double check if you have to bring your own equipment, because that would be awkward with your daughter to show up without a telescope.
Weather can be a big factor here, but is really not under your control. If it’s a cloudy evening, you’re done. Sure, you can still listen to Gallileo Jr. talk and talk for the full hour, but you came there with your daughter to share the stars, not just to hear about them. It’s basic advice to watch the weather for the week you’re planning on pulling off this date. Look at the hour by hour, because you can always avoid that drive if you know a storm is coming in or if it’s going to be overcast. With today’s technology, you should be able to appropriately gauge the weather.
So, how do you make this special with your daughter? You’re beginning the date at night, for starters. Some planetariums don’t start until 9 p.m., so that’s just cool to be out with Dad that late. There will probably be a big group that is there to take in the night sky as well, but you’re there with her for one on one time, so that is special. And overall, there is just something serene and tranquil about the night sky. You really don’t even need a telescope, but luckily you’ll have one here. It’s a learning experience for her and for you, with a little evening fireworks to put the icing on the cake.
Thanks for being a dad…