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.
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.
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Space Centre Location
The Space Centre is located on the south side of False Creek in Vanier Park, 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.
Space Centre Admission Rates
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 (1) 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.
The Space Centre is open seven days a week, but only from 10 am to 3 pm on weekdays in the non-summer season, Saturdays and statutory holidays from 10 am to 5 pm, and on Sundays from 12 to 5 pm. In the summer it’s usually open 7 days a week from 10 am until 5 pm.
Daytime admission is about $19.50 for adults, $16.50 for youth and seniors, and $14.00 for children ages 5 to 11. A family of two adults and up to three children costs $60.50.
The Planetarium’s Star Theatre has shows on Saturday evenings at 7:30 and 9 pm.
Evening shows cost $14.00 for adults, $11.00 for youth and seniors, $8.50 for children (ages 5-11) and $41.00 for a family of two adults and up to three children and youth.
The Observatory is also open Saturdays from 7 to 11 pm in winter and from 8 pm to midnight 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.
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.
Cosmic Courtyard Gallery
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, and there’s 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.
Planetarium Star Theatre
The highlight of the Centre in our opinion is the Planetarium which has a show once every hour or so (although 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 and 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.
- 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.
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 and 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, however, passes to the Space Centre include unlimited Groundstation Canada Theatre shows.
Click Theatre Presentations to see current topics and what’s on the schedule.
The Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory is a real functioning astronomical observatory with 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 H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
TIP #1: If wanting to check out the Observatory, don’t forget that it’s only open on Saturday evenings. 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: If you have young kids, a most affordable way to see the Space Centre is with the Kidsworld Program where children ages 4-13 get admission to a number of attractions on specific dates at no extra cost. It’s a fabulous deal and includes free admission for an accompanying adult.
TIP #3: 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 #4: 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 #5: 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 Vancouver Maritime Museum (the second of which is just a short walk away).
TIP #6: 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. Dual Passes are also available if you just want to see the Space Centre and Museum of Vancouver.
TIP #7: The Space Centre is a regular participant in the Entertainment Coupon Book. If you have a copy, chances are you’ll find a 2-for-1 coupon or 50% off single-admission deal inside. For more information and for a list of other participating attractions, click Entertainment Book Coupons for Kids.
TIP #8: 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 #9: Be sure to take a photo or 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!
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:
- Museum of Vancouver
- Maritime Museum
- Kitsilano Beach
- Vancouver’s Top Attractions
- Vancouver’s 100 Best Places
- Vancouver’s Monthly Events Calendar
- Festivals & Events