Fernbank Science Center

Gaze at stars through one of the biggest public telescopes in the U.S. then explore the beautiful surroundings of this free, family-friendly attraction.

The Fernbank Science Center is a small museum on the edge of the Fernbank Forest, east of midtown Atlanta. It has a 500-seat planetarium and an observatory which houses one of the largest telescopes for public viewing in the U.S. There are domestic and companion animals on display, and exhibitions that demonstrate scientific concepts, such as electricity. 

The main exhibit hall is split into two levels. Permanent exhibits are on the top floor and temporary exhibitions are on the bottom floor. The whole area is 9,000 square feet (836 square meters) and can be covered easily in a few hours. Leave extra time to visit the planetarium, or make another visit in the evening to see a demonstration at the observatory.

One of the most popular exhibits is the Apollo 6 space capsule, on display in the permanent gallery. Watch a short video of the last unmanned Apollo mission’s takeoff and journey. 

Kids will love the snakes, frogs, turtles and spiders on display, safely behind glass. One exhibit that’s always busy is the beehive that’s attached to the outside of the building and extends through to a glass case inside. It’s fascinating to watch the bees as they work to produce honey.

The planetarium is one of the biggest in the country, with a 70-foot (21-meter) dome and 500 seats. You’ll feel as though you’re traveling through space thanks to 100 special effects projectors. (Check online for a schedule of presentations.)

Look at real stars through a high-powered telescope in the observatory. Astronomers work the telescope and run question and answer sessions on Thursdays and Fridays (weather permitting).

The science center is open every day except Sunday and some national holidays. The exhibit hall and conservatory are free, but there’s a small entrance fee for planetarium shows. (Check the museum’s website for show times.)

Come by bus from central Atlanta. If you drive, there’s plenty of free parking.

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