The Rochester Museum and Science Center campus includes the Science Museum and the Strasenburgh Planetarium, each with unique schedules and admission. The Planetarium offers a robust Saturday schedule of star shows, laser shows, movies, and free telescope viewings on clear Saturday nights from the Observation Tower.
The Science Museum
In the Science Museum you’ll interact with immersive installations like SoundSense, Expedition Earth, Face to Face: Encounters with Identity, At The Western Door, and Science on a Sphere, simulator rides, Singing Tesla Coils, and a recently-restored diorama of Rochester.
I’ve been visiting RMSC for 30+ years. For the most part, the exhibits behind glass are the same as they have ever been. As of late, however, it’s been the new exhibits and events that are the big draw, keeping the museum relevant to today’s interests.
Singling Tesla Coils
The newest permanent additions that keep me coming back to the Rochester Museum and Science Center are the two singing Tesla Coils in the Electricity Theater on the 3rd floor. The show is part of the admission price. It’s science come to life! It’s exciting, entertaining, educational, and one of my favorite things to do at the museum. Volunteers are able to go on stage inside the cage for a song or two.
The star projector, affectionately named “CARL” has been in continuous service ever since 1968, when Rochester Museum and Science Center’s Strasenburgh Planetarium opened. In 2018, the Planetarium turned 50. I was able to attend the last star show before the planetarium closed for renovations. In January 2019, I was able to attend the very first show upon its reopening.
“At last we’re in the modern world!” The new planetarium will blow your mind! Before, with just Carl, we could not leave Earth. Now we can explore the solar system and the entire visible universe from any perspective! The quality of the images and near-real-time data is extraordinary! And, the chairs are no longer fixed to the floor making it accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. You could even lay on the floor (not where someone could step on you, of course!) and stand against the back wall. If you have a chance this weekend, get tickets to see “Outer Space to Inner Space” for a true showcase of the new technology.
Planetarium Observation Tower
On Saturday nights, when the sky over Rochester is clear, you can climb the winding 60-steps to Rochester Museum and Science Center’s Strasenburgh Planetarium Observation Tower and look through the telescopes at planets, nebula, and other stellar objects for FREE! Depending on what is visible the night you go, the telescopes are powerful enough to see the moons of Jupiter! The rings of Saturn! The Orion Nebula! Seeing them yourself will make you view our planet with a whole new perspective. The entrance to the tower is outside the main planetarium building, accessible from the back parking lot.
Call ahead (after 7:30pm to (585) 697-1945) and verify the good folks from the Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science (ASRAS) will be there. Plan on arriving there after dark and before 10 PM.
Rochester Museum and Science Center comes to life after dark!
RMSC After Dark is a 21+ themed, quarterly event which has gained so much popularity among adults of all ages that they consistently sell out. Lately they have been including the Strasenburgh Planetarium in the agenda, adding star shows and laser light shows to the mix of science, games, crafts, music and dance activities. After Dark usually an indoor & outdoor event in the warmer months, and dinner is available at food trucks parked in the lot.
They have a limited number VIP tickets, and though they cost a little more than the standard price, the benefits are worth it. Each event is different, but last time VIP was 1 hour early admission, an early star show, drinks and activities in the Planetarium lobby, and a custom event t-shirt.
Get there early! With the regular admission tickets, I recommend getting there a half-hour early just to grab a parking spot, otherwise you’re parking on the street blocks away. Another option is to park your car in the lot around 5 PM and walk over to Park Ave. and grab a bite at one of the local restaurants.
Explore the grounds
Behind the museum is a beautiful garden. Out front, the sidewalk along East Ave. has interesting engravings.