The Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York is visually stunning inside and out. In addition to regularly scheduled star shows, the planetarium hosts live sky talks on the last Tuesday of every month, as well as lectures by prominent authors and astrophysicists.
The Adler Planetarium in Chicago was the first planetarium built in the United States and the entire Western Hemisphere and the oldest left in existence. Thanks to a major renovation, the three theaters within are equipped with the most advanced equipment available.
At the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, you'll find the Morrison Planetarium, the largest all-digital planetarium in the world. The programing lineup includes traditional star shows, live tours of the universe, live NASA feeds and broadcasts from California Academy of Sciences researchers reporting from the field.
Anyone with an interest in astronomy should make time for a visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and its Burke Baker Planetarium, home to a dome theater used to train NASA astronauts in star field identification. The theater gets at least one new upgrade each year, so you can keep coming back on every visit to Houston.
The 75-foot aluminum planetarium dome at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium – part of LA's Griffith Observatory – is one of the largest and most technologically advanced in the world. The Zeiss Universarium Mark IX star projector allows visitors to see what the night sky would have looked like at any moment in history.
Morehead Planetarium & Science Center in Chapel Hill, NC
The Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill runs a schedule of a dozen different shows, including the local-friendly Carolina Skies that shows what the night sky will look like over North Carolina, and Wild Weather, a look at the extreme weather situations that occur in outer space.
Washington, DC's National Air and Space Museum, considered one of the best in the country, also houses one of the best planetariums around, the Albert Einstein Planetarium. The state-of-the-art Zeiss Model VIa projection system, paired with Sky Vision dual digital projection and six-channel digital surround sound, makes you feel like you're zooming through space.
The HR MacMillan Space Centre, a non-profit institution, has been operating in Vancouver since 1968. Today, the domed theater puts on star shows, special speakers series and, during the summer months, a full line-up of space-themed movies show larger than life on the dome of the planetarium.
The Rochester Museum & Science Center is home to the Strasenburgh Planetarium, a public planetarium with a 225-seat Star Theater. A variety of shows are projected onto the 65-foot dome, including educational displays about Earth, the planets and stars, as well as laser shows to the sounds of Pink Floyd and U2.
At the Gates Planetarium at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, visitors get a closer look at one of the most fascinating astronomical phenomenon, black holes. For younger guests, the museum's One World, One Sky show takes you on a journey with Big Bird and Elmo to the moon and back in an educational and cross-cultural journey.