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Vancouver’s H.R. MacMillan Space Centre

HR MacMillan Space Centre

With its planetarium and observatory, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre at Vanier Park is Vancouver’s best place to learn about the stars and our universe.

Note: To celebrate May the Fourth, the Space Centre plans to host a special Star Wars-themed event on May 4th, 2022. For details see our article about May the Fourth in Vancouver.

 


This article contains information about the following topics:

Space Centre Location | Admission Rates and Hours | Cosmic Courtyard Gallery | Planetarium Star Theatre | Groundstation Canada Theatre | GMS Observatory | Tips & Advice | Other Information

Click on any of the above links to jump to a specific topic, or continue reading to learn all about the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.


 

Space Centre & Planetarium

Good for children and adults ages 6 to 90, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre has a planetarium and theatre with shows throughout the day. If you want a cool way to learn about the stars, then the attraction is definitely worth seeing.

 

Space Centre Location

The Space Centre is located on the south side of False Creek in Vanier Park. It’s not far from Kitsilano Beach. The venue’s address is 1100 Chestnut Street. It’s in the same building as the Museum of Vancouver, and just a short distance from the Maritime Museum.

 

Goose at Vancouver Planetarium
Space Centre and Museum Building

 

Space Centre Admission Rates and Hours

Admission rates at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre depend on your age and when you go.

Note: Daytime and Evening admission rates include one  show in the Planetarium Star Theatre, but unlimited access to the Cosmic Courtyard Gallery and educational demonstrations in the Groundstation Canada Theatre.

Also note that prices and other details are subject to change.

 

Daytime Admission

The Space Centre is typically open seven days a week. As of February, 2022, it’s open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm most days. The exceptions are Wednesdays and Fridays when it’s open from 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm. The Space Centre’s hours are often changed during the summer, in past years the summer hours have been around 10 am to 5 pm every day.

Daytime admission used to be about $21.00 for adults, $18.00 for youth and seniors, and $15.00 for children ages 5 to 11. As of early 2022, that’s been changed to where everyone ages 4 and up costs about $21. Children 3 and under are free.

Further below is information about evening rates and the attraction’s hours of operation.

 

Vancouver Maritime Museum

 


SAVE 25% AT THE MARITIME MUSEUM

TIP: The Vancouver Maritime Museum is a 5-minute walk from the Space Centre. It too is a great museum. If you visit that museum and use the promo code BESTVANCOUVER when booking your tickets online you’ll save 25%! Unfortunately, the deal doesn’t apply to the Space Centre or Museum of Vancouver. It’s only good for the Vancouver Maritime Museum.


 

Evening Admission

The Planetarium’s Star Theatre has shows on Wednesday and Friday evenings at 7 and 8:30 pm. The admission for these nights costs the same as the daytime admission on other days, as of early 2022.

The Observatory is usually open until midnight on certain days in the summer. Admission is included in the cost of an evening show, or by donation. The Observatory’s ½-metre Cassegrain telescope offers views of the Vancouver skies with instruction by a guide.

 

Hours of Operation

The Space Centre’s hours of operation are the following as of February, 2022:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and weekends – 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
  • Wednesday and Friday – 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm

 

Inside the HR MacMillan Space Centre
The Cosmic Courtyard Gallery

 

What to Expect at the Space Centre

The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre has four main parts – the Cosmic Courtyard Gallery, Planetarium, Groundstation Canada Theatre and GMS Observatory.

 

The Cosmic Courtyard Gallery portion of the Space Centre isn’t extensive, and not the most modern. It’s interesting though, especially for children who love things like rockets, astronauts and outer space.

The Gallery is not the main draw at the attraction, however, so don’t just see it and then leave without checking out the Centre’s other elements.

This Gallery part of the attraction has a number of displays. They are fairly simple, and mostly suitable for young children with explanations and reading of information by their parents.

In the Cosmic Courtyard Gallery there are a few hands-on stations where kids can pretend they’re in a real space station, which is great. There you’ll find a model astronaut suit that people can take photos with. There is also a life-like model astronaut hanging from overhead, a few video screens to watch, and models of space vehicles.

 

Astronaut Display for Photos
A model astronaut suit that’s popular for photos

 

Planetarium Star Theatre

The highlight of the Centre in our opinion is the Planetarium. It has a show once every hour or so. Admission tickets grant visitors access to just one show per day.

The Planetarium Star Theatre features a domed ceiling and 230-seats all around. During the show you lean back in your chairs, look up, and admire the night sky and space scenes above you.

Films in the Planetarium Star Theatre run for about 45 minutes each. They feature different topics including meteor showers, black holes, the Milky Way Galaxy, and numerous other astronomical sights and scenes.

There are usually at least four or so different films on any given day, which is excellent as it means a choice of topics and age suitability.

For a list of what’s showing and when, see the Space Centre Schedule.

Important Notes:

  • Shows in the Planetarium Star Theatre are recommended for children ages 6 and up, although many films are identified as being appropriate for slightly older audiences. If you have young children, be sure to see a film with the simplest scientific content. Click Planetarium Films for a list of what’s showing and what they’re about.
  • Admission to the Space Centre includes access to just one (1) Planetarium Star Theatre Show. Consequently, pick your choice of film carefully.

 

Astronaut Display at Vancouver Space Centre
Astronaut Scene at the Space Centre

 

Groundstation Canada Theatre

The Groundstation Canada Theatre features live science shows and demonstrations about gravity, geology, space travel, what it’s like living in outer space and other topics.

Presentations in the Groundstation Canada Theatre last for about 20 minutes each. There are usually four or so offered on any given day.

Similar to the shows in the Planetarium, demonstrations in the live theatre are designed for audiences ages 6+, 8+ and 10+. Unlike the Planetarium where admission includes just one show, passes to the Space Centre include unlimited Groundstation Canada Theatre shows.

Click Theatre Presentations to see current topics and what’s on the schedule.

 

Groundstation Canada Theatre
Groundstation Canada Theatre

 

GMS Observatory

The Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory is a real functioning astronomical observatory. It has a 50-cm Cassegrain telescope that’s powerful enough to see the planets, moons and star clusters.

The Observatory is usually open on Saturday evenings throughout the year from 7:30 pm until 11:30 pm. Admission is included with Evening Admission to the Space Centre, or by donation for people just wanting to see and use the telescope.

 

Tips and Advice

Below is some advice to help you make the most out of your visit to the Space Centre.

 

Things to Consider Before Your Visit

TIP #1: If wanting to check out the Observatory, don’t forget that it’s only open on Saturday evenings (in normal years at least). Also, the stars and space are only visible on nights with dark clear skies – so don’t head out there too early or on a rainy day!

TIP #2: Don’t arrive too late in the day or you won’t have much choice of Planetarium shows or Groundstation Canada Theatre demonstrations to watch.

TIP #3: If you do want to see the other above two museums too, then get the Vanier Park Explore Pass which will get you into all three. It’s a good deal, you can buy the pass at any of the three venues, and you don’t have to visit them all on the same day.

 

Other General Advice

TIP #4: Shows at the Planetarium have suggested age limits. Some recommend audience members be at least 6 years of age, and others 8+, 10+ and 12+. Anyone can attend, but the age recommendations are a good guide as to whether little folk will get bored or not. Click Planetarium Shows for a list of what’s on and what age groups the shows are good for.

TIP #5: Be sure to take in a show at the Planetarium as the films are arguably the highlight of the attraction. Take in at least one show at the Groundstation Canada Theatre too. Don’t just go in the Cosmic Courtyard Gallery, stay a few minutes and then leave thinking that’s all there is to see.

TIP #6: After visiting the Space Centre consider going for a walk outside along False Creek if the weather is good, or, if it’s raining or you’re interested, then visit the adjacent Museum of Vancouver or nearby Vancouver Maritime Museum.

TIP #7: Be sure to take a photo of yourself, friends, kids and other family members in the space suit display. It’s not every day you get to dress up like an astronaut!

 

Vancouver Astronaut

 

Other Information

See the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre‘s website for more information about the attraction.

For a list of other things to do, check out any of the following: