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.
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’re looking for 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.
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.
The Space Centre is typically open seven days a week. As of February 2023, it’s open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm most days. The exceptions are Wednesdays and Fridays when it’s open from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The Space Centre’s hours often change during the summer. In recent years the summer hours have been around 10:00 am to 5:00 pm every day.
Daytime admission is $18.00 for all ages. Children under 5 have free admission.
Further below is information about evening rates and the attraction’s hours of operation.
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 at the Space Centre
The Planetarium’s Star Theatre has shows on Wednesday and Friday evenings at 7:00 pm and 8:30 pm. Admission for these nights costs the same as the daytime rates on other days, or at least that was the case as of early 2023.
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.
Museum Membership Rates
As of early 2023, Standard Membership with the museum costs $55 (plus tax) for adults which allows for free admission for one year for the member and one guest. Enhanced membership costs $110 and includes free admission for the pass holder and up to three guests per visit. Members get a number of other benefits too. For example, they receive a 20% discount at other local attractions including the Museum of Vancouver and Vancouver Maritime Museum which are also located at Vanier Park. They can also get the same discount at Science World and the UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum.
Hours of Operation
The Space Centre’s hours of operation are the following as of early 2023:
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and weekends – 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
- Wednesday and Friday – 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm
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 is interesting, especially for children who love things like rockets, astronauts and outer space. It’s not a huge space, but it has a reasonable number of things to see. The displays are fairly simple, and mostly suitable for young children with explanations and reading of information by their parents.
In our opinion the Gallery isn’t the main draw at the attraction. It’s nice, but don’t just see it and then leave without checking out the Centre’s other elements.
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.
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 give you 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.
- 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. 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.
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 Wednesday and Friday evenings throughout the year from 7:00 pm until 9:30 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 of your visit to the Space Centre.
TIP #1: If wanting to check out the Observatory, don’t forget that it’s only open on Wednesday and Friday 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: 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: 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 #4: 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 #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 nearby Vancouver Maritime Museum.
TIP #6: 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!
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 Monthly Events Calendar
- Festivals & Events
- Vancouver’s 100 Best Places