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New Adler Exhibit Takes Visitors On Journey Of Universe

New Adler Planetarium Exhibit

“The Universe: A Walk through Space and Time” opens Friday at the Adler Planetarium. (Credit: Steve Grzanich/WBBM Newsradio/CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Need a summer vacation? How about a tour of the universe? And the best part is you won’t even have to leave Chicago.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Grzanich reports, a new interactive exhibit opens Friday at the Adler Planetarium called “The Universe: A Walk through Space and Time.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Grzanich reports

“Everything we know came out of something smaller than an atom,” said Karen Carney, Adler’s associate vice president for visitor experience and learning. She gave WBBM Newsradio a sneak peak of the exhibit. “It will help give our visitors an understanding of their place in the Universe by letting them discover it for themselves through digital media and hands-on activities.”

The celestial journey and walking tour features a virtual display that begins with the first light in the universe shown as a tiny dot on the ground, projected as a hologram that moves forward in time and grows larger with each step.

According to Carney, the exhibit is designed to be visually captivating and intellectually stimulating. “It gets at some of those really big questions about the universe. Where did everything come from? Are we alone? Am I connected in any way? How big is it really?”

Visitors can also use touch screens to zoom-in on objects in deep space photographed in high resolution by powerful telescopes like Hubble. They can also use interactive stations to send e-postcards to themselves from far away galaxies like the Orion Nebula or the Coma Cluster. Delivery will be at the speed of light, so it could take a while to arrive back here on Earth.

The exhibit highlights what is known about the universe but it also touches on the many mysteries that remain.

“80 percent of the matter in the Universe we can’t see or detect with any of our telescopes. It’s invisible and doesn’t interact with light so we don’t know what it’s made of. We don’t know what a huge portion of the universe is made of. We don’t know why the universe is speeding up as its expanding,” said Carney.

The exhibit also features a display of all the broadcast signals we humans have sent into space and the journey through billions of years ends with a final challenge to visitors about what will eventually become of the universe.