By Michelle Gillan Larkin, a mom and writer living in Northern Westchester.
Perhaps the planetarium has been the last stop on your list of fun things to do with your kid. You’ve thought: He’s too young. Or, she won’t sit still. Well, neither will be the case at the planetarium at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers.
Every Saturday and Sunday, the 12:30 p.m. show is geared especially for the five and older set. That said, I’ve seen many two year olds sit still and quiet, their little chins turned upwards, their big eyes glued to the dazzling star show on the ceiling above them. This is especially true with the planetarium’s newest show: “One World, One Sky.” It stars Big Bird and Elmo (say no more), and teaches children (and anyone else paying attention) that the sun is actually a star, and that kite flying on the moon is a bust because there’s no wind up there. The show also touches upon gravity, the North Star, and the Big Dipper—all in a way that’s really entertaining and super easy to understand. (Check the schedule for specific dates and showtimes!)
There are three other shows that rotate into that noon-ish time slot, and they are also perfect for older toddlers and pre-schoolers. My four and a half year old’s favorite features Tycho, the space-traveling astro-dog, who likes to play around in zero gravity and details the differences between night and day. My kid actually uttered “whoa” out loud when Tycho offered a peak at meteors shooting across the night sky.
The 3:30 p.m. weekend shows are for those eight and older, but if yours has an interest in space like mine does, you’ll be fine. Our favorite is “Moons: Worlds of Mystery,” which teaches us that our little, white circle in the sky is not the only one up there. Truly fascinating for those with a curious mind and an eye often turned towards the heavens.
All shows run about half an hour or so, and are followed by a quick night sky tutorial from a planetarium volunteer who knows his stuff, and is quite aware that he’s in a room full of tots (read: short and sweet). If you’re anything like us, you’ll catch all the shows at least once. And, your junior astronomer will start begging to stay up past bedtime.
Hudson River Museum, 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers; 914-963-4550