“If your kids like science, you should check out the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake, they will love it!” This came from a friend when were in Jackson talking about our two days in Salt Lake that were entirely unplanned. All we knew was we were flying out of Salt Lake, and we had two days to explore the area. Closer to the trip, we saw it was going to be 100 degrees Fahrenheit each day, and we were NOT going to be doing outdoor activists. The Planetarium suddenly seemed like a really good idea.
The Clark Planetarium has a number of interactive and educational exhibits and they are all free to explore. The kids watched videos of asteroids hitting the earth as the earth formed the atmosphere we have today. They tried their hands at landing a lunar probe (much harder than it looks), and were excited to run and and break up tornados. Upstairs they walked on Mars’ surface, programmed and drove Mars rovers, and read the weather report on various different planets in front of a green screen.
But the highlight of the upstairs exhibits was Vanta Black Hole. Here, the kids used their fingers to launch different stars and celestial bodies across space, and watched what happened when they collided with another. But my husband taught them out to collide yellow stars to make blue giants and build up the star masses to create super novas and black holes. The kids soon mastered it, so much so that their black holes started swallowing up all the other kid’s suns and planets. When they started to get mad, we snuck away from the chaos we created.
The real fun of the planetarium is the dome theater and 3D movies. These have a small fee, but are worth seeing. We did two movies in the dome theater, a theater with a rounded ceiling that is the screen. The seats recline back, and it gives you that immersive feeling like you are moving and traveling with those on the screen. The first movie we saw was Accidental Astronauts, a cute cartoon about some robots that accidentally get launched into space and walk on the surface of the moon and travel near the sun. Not my first choice, but it’s a great way to make the kids happy and learn a little about the moon and sun. The second movie we saw was Incoming!, which is about the asteroids that hit Earth and how we monitor for them today. That was narrated by George Takei and both my husband’s and my choice. That was really interesting, and fun for mom and dad. The kids liked it too, but they loved the cartoon more. No accounting for taste, lol.
Finally, after the movies and creating havoc with black holes, we headed down to the gift shop. The shop was full of fun toys, science experiment kits, NASA dress up clothing, and everything that my kids wanted to bring home. We set some rules ($15 each to spend, must fit in the carry on suitcase, and mom and dad had to approve) and they went off. They spent a lot of time playing with the magnetic rocks, but ultimately settled on spy walkie talkies, a fiber optic light, and magnetic Chinese checkers. I ended up finding a pretty gem necklace for $12 for myself. Then we went into the hot sun in search of food. We had spent four hours in the museum and were now well past lunch time and famished. No one wanted to leave, but they all needed to eat so I was able to drag the three out to find food, reluctantly leaving behind the planetarium and all it had to offer.
- Location: 110 S 400 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
- Times: Sunday – Wednesday 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM, Thursday 10:30 AM – 10:00 PM, Friday – Saturday 10:30 AM – 11:00 PM
- Costs: Store and exhibits are free to the public, Movies are $7 before 5pm and $9 after 5pm for Adults, $7 for children under 12. Children 2 and under free.