BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
A NASA Apollo 8 hero who was one of the first three humans to see the other side of the moon 50 years ago, a flourishing outreach telescope program, and the stellar commitment of the Adler Planetarium’s Women’s Board combined to make the Celestial Ball an out-of-this world success. Raising over $2 million for programs that invite the Adler’s inner-city neighbors to see Saturn through a telescope for the first time and help teens enter the scientific community, the Ball demonstrated what the Adler already knew: its Women’s Board is one of the city’s great forces in championing STEM initiatives for teens, especially in their ingenious programming for girls.
Event Co-Chairs Lisa H. Bertagna and Mihra Seta, along with Dinner Chairs Pradip K. Patiath and James J. O’Connor, Jr., welcomed a sell-out crowd of more than 700 to the Adler, America’s first planetarium, built almost 90 years ago.
NASA hero Captain James A. Lovell, Jr., received a Lifetime Achievement Award not only for his outer space accomplishments but also for “his inspiration on generations to dream bigger and rise to every challenge they encounter.”
That inspiration was evident when the Adler launched their Letters to Lovell campaign earlier this year asking the community to share how Captain Lovell has inspired them. Eight-year-old Hudson, who claims to be Captain Lovell’s biggest fan, was among the hundreds of people from across the globe who wrote letters. On Saturday evening, Hudson had the opportunity to shake hands with his hero as he joined the Adler’s President and CEO, Michelle Larson, along with other key Adler leadership on stage to help present Captain Lovell with his award.
Bob Arthur, President of the Magellan Corporation, received the corporate partner award for Magellan’s work, including being the first sponsor of ‘Scopes in the City, the Adler’s urban telescope outreach program. Magellan was also the sole sponsor of a scale model of the solar system that spanned Chicago’s lakefront in 2015.
From its classrooms, labs, and telescopes, the Adler daily takes guests to the skies beyond where Captain Lovell once so excitingly explored.