Our five-year-old has recently become a bit planet-obsessed but you and Junior Astronaut in TOw don’t have to be a solar system whiz to enjoy this space experience. There are three 25-min digital presentations to choose from. Each explore different themes and cater to specific age groups. They are always led by staff so it’s much more than just watching a cool video. Learning component aside, we love that you can simply chill out on comfy beanbags (there are also cushions and two rows of benches) before jumping back into the hustle and bustle of the busy galleries.
Getting there: Level 4 within the Space Gallery across from Kidspark. Park strollers outside.
Arrive early: The presentations don’t always reach capacity (50 people) but it doesn’t hurt to begin lining up about 10 minutes early. That way you can guarantee your seating of choice. Ask about show times upon arrival and they are usually posted on the entrance wall to Kidspark. You can also check the online calendar.
The shows: We caught the Eyes on the Skies presentation (for 5-and-under) but there are two others geared at older kids. The Sky Tonight talks about constellations and The Extreme Universe explores stars, black holes and solar storms, plus all the instruments that are used in making these discoveries.
Afraid of the dark: The room does stay dark so prep your littles should they be uncomfortable. Staff asks that you turn off or dim electronics for best viewing experience. (Also a reminder to refrain from stomping if you have the sneakers that light up.)
More star gazing: The Science Centre has lots of information for kids that are passionate about space. For more advanced talk of the cosmos, the University of Toronto Planetarium in the Astronomy Building offers digital presentations by astronomers ($5 per person), as well as monthly AstroTours by grad students. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada also hosts lots of events – and some family-friendly.
Seeing real stars: Torontonians know well that it’s not always easy to see the stars in the city. The David Dunlop Observatory in Richmond Hill also has some public events (for kids 11 and older.) Check their event listings.
App: Worth checking out – free astronomy star guide iPad App GoSkyWatch Planetarium.
DYK (did-you-know): Once upon a time, there was a place to view the stars from downtown. Born-and-raised Torontonians can usually tell you about a memory at the McLaughlin Planetarium at the ROM. It closed in 1995. Finally the building will become more than just an office and storage space. Although you won’t be able to see the stars, portions will be open to the public. The U of T has plans for a mega-cultural complex housing a Jewish museum, a 250-seat performance hall and academic facilities.