top of page

Michelle Nichols, M.Ed.

I'm an author and speaker with more than 30 years of experience working at planetariums in the field of astronomy education. Read on for more information about me and the programs I offer.

Purchase copies of my book on eBay!

Astronomy Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Activities


Michelle Nichols is Director of Public Observing at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL, and has worked at the Adler since June 1995. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National-Louis University. Ms. Nichols leads all of the Adler Planetarium's telescope, observatory, and public sky observing initiatives and events. Before landing at the Adler Planetarium, Michelle worked at U.S. Space Camp (Titusville, FL), the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium (Cocoa, FL), and the Staerkel Planetarium (Champaign, IL).

Since 1999, Michelle has been a popular local speaker, giving hundreds of presentations to more than 130 public libraries, community organizations, and senior living facilities in the Chicago suburbs, Indiana, and Alabama.


Ms. Nichols has also served as an advisor for several children’s books: Superfast Rockets, Space: Surviving in Zero-G, Ellen Ochoa: Reach for the Stars, and The Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion, as well as the Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers series: The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, The Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto: Dwarf Planet, and Comets. Astronomy Lab for Kids (2016) is Michelle's first book as author.

Image credit: Michelle Nichols


May 20 - 6:30 pm - Artemis: Returning to the Moon - Bloomingdale Public Library

May 21 - 7:00 pm - The Webb Space Telescope - Winnetka Public Library

May 24 - 6:30 pm - Armchair Tour of the Solar System - Huntley Public Library

Jun 10 - 7:00 pm - Skywatching with Your Telescope - Geneva Public Library

Jun 13 - 6:30 pm - Armchair Tour of the Solar System - Evanston Public Library

Jun 20 - 7:00 pm - Armchair Tour of the Solar System - Rolling Meadows Public Library

Sep 19 - 7:00 pm - Armchair Tour of the Universe - Rolling Meadows Public Library

Sep 30 - 6:30 pm - Comets and Asteroids - Bloomingdale Public Library

Oct 8 - 7:00 pm - The Past, Present, and Future of Space Food - Naperville Public Library

Nov 4 - 7:00 pm - Comets and Asteroids - Geneva Public Library

Nov 12 - 7:00 pm - Icy Worlds - Naperville Public Library

Please confirm program dates/times, registration requirements, and/or registration residency restrictions with individual program hosts, as well as as whether program is in-person, online-only, or a hybrid format. All programs are for hosts located in Illinois, unless otherwise stated.


Upcoming Events
Heading 6

How to Book a Presentation

Do you need to be an astronomer to enjoy my programs? Absolutely not! My goal for all of my presentations and programs is help inspire anyone to want to learn more about our Universe, and to transmit my passion and excitement about astronomy and space exploration to my audiences. The PDF at the end of this section is a list of my current presentations, plus new programs that will be available in the near future.
After you have reviewed my available & unavailable dates, please contact me at the email address listed at the end of this homepage and let me know 1) if you have a date or date range in mind, 2) the program you would like to book or if you need a suggestion, and 3) your institution + whether I will be presenting from your location, if the program is virtual (online-only), or if you would like a prerecorded program. Fees for each type of program are listed below.
When I am unavailable:
  • Dates through November 3, 2024 (dates booked and work conflicts)
  • Wednesdays, Fridays, and weekends
  • November 12 & 14, 2024 (booked dates)
  • November 28, 2024 (holiday)
  • December 2, 2024-January 5, 2025 (work conflicts and holidays)
  • February 28, 2025-March 28, 2025
  • May 23, 2025-September 28, 2025
Presentations online or in-person: All my programs are available to be presented in-person or online, and my programs generally last one hour (slightly longer with additional Q&A). I have extensive experience using Zoom Meeting/Webinar, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. The host organization is required to provide the online videoconferencing account to use for the program. As a format alternative, I can prerecord a video of a presentation* (without a participating audience) to provide to you to post to your website or YouTube account for a mutually agreeable time period (usually for 30 days, though longer times are possible, depending on the program; please inquire). *Recordings of The Science of Climate Change will not be allowed.
  • Base rate: $150 for all program dates in 2024, $175 for all program dates in 2025.
  • Travel cost: minimum $25. Will vary by distance/time needed for travel. Please inquire and I will calculate the exact travel cost amount for you. 
  • For in-person, hybrid, or online-only programs where I am presenting from the brick-and-mortar host location, my total fee is base rate + travel cost. 
  • For prerecorded, hybrid, or online-only programs where I am presenting the program from home and no travel is needed, my total fee is base rate only.
  • The speaking fee and travel cost listed above are only for my one-hour programs as listed in my presentation roster and for host locations within 70 miles of Aurora, IL. For programs requiring longer-distance travel and/or for one-off specially-requested program topics or unique program formats not listed here, a higher fee and/or additional travel cost will apply. Please inquire.
Audio-visual and setup needs: My presentations utilize PowerPoint. For in-person programs, I can bring my PC laptop, or if you would like me to use yours, I can bring my presentation on a flash drive. My presentations require only a projector, a screen, and a table or podium to set up my computer. I am comfortable using a microphone if your room setup requires use of one.
Age recommendations: All my programs are geared toward adults. If children wish to attend, it is at the discretion of their parents or guardians, though a general recommendation is that programs would be appropriate for children ages 10 and up. I do not offer programs specifically for children as the primary audience.
Need some program suggestions?
  • See below for my current list of available programs.
  • Are you hosting me for the first time? Try Armchair Tour of the Solar System, NASA's Next Great Telescope, Roving the Red Planet, or Skywatching With Your Eyes. These programs consistently bring in the largest audiences.
  • March is Women's History Month. Try Women in Astronomy or Women in Space Exploration.
  • The Webb Space Telescope is providing stunning images and amazing science results. Try NASA's Next Great Telescope. (Note: I update this program with new information every time I present it.)
  • Does your institution have a telescope for patrons to check out? Try Skywatching with a Telescope and I'll present information about how it works and what you can see with it.
  • There is always something interesting to see in the night sky. Note: The astronomy community is keeping an eye on a possible bright comet that might be visible in October 2024. Try Skywatching With Your Eyes.
  • NASA will launch Artemis 2, a mission to fly four astronauts around the Moon, tentatively in 2025. Try Artemis: Returning to the Moon.
  • The next total lunar eclipse will be on March 13, 2025. Try Skywatching With Your Eyes.


For questions regarding speaking engagement appearances and fees, or if you would like to purchase my book in bulk, please contact me:

astroeducator {at} aol {dot} com

bottom of page