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


Mar 13 - 6:30 pm - Defining Time - Bloomingdale Public Library

Mar 14 - 7 pm - Artemis: Returning to the Moon - Schaumburg Township Library

Mar 20 - 7 pm - Women in Space Exploration - Frankfort Public Library

Mar 21 - 1 pm - Armchair Tour of the Universe  - McHenry County College

Mar 21 - 6 pm - Women in Space Exploration - Worth Public Library

Mar 27 - 6:30 pm - Women in Astronomy - Oak Park Public Library

Mar 28 - 7:30 pm - private program

Apr 13 - 7 pm - 12 Things That Make Life On Earth Possible - Flossmoor Pub Library

Jun 5 - 1 pm - Artemis: Returning to the Moon - McHenry County College

Jun 5 - 7 pm - Space Food: Past, Present, and Future - Fremont Public Library

Jun 12 - 7 pm - 12 Things That Make Life On Earth Possible - Messenger Library

Jun 26 - 7 pm - private program

Jun 29 - 7 pm - The Great North American Eclipse - Geneva Public Library

(more details to be added to this list soon - see below for my booked dates)

Please confirm program dates/times, registration requirements, and/or registration residency restrictions with individual program hosts. Confirm with program hosts as to 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. 
When I am available: I am generally available on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings.  See the list below and my Upcoming Events list above and my unavailable list below for more details on when I can and cannot schedule programs.
Update as of March 13, 2023: I am booked for a large number of presentations and I have a lot of work commitments already through October 2023. I am now only accepting requests for bookings for dates 1) from November 9 to December 7, 2023, 2) from January 8 to February 6, 2024 (see below for exceptions), and 3) starting May 21, 2024.
When I am unavailable:
  • Dates booked by other institutions (see list above)
  • All Wednesdays, Fridays, and weekends
  • All dates through November 8, 2023 (dates already booked and/or work commitments)
  • November 13, 2023 (date already booked)
  • December 9, 2023-January 7, 2024 (work commitments + time off)
  • January 22 & 29, 2024 (dates already booked)
  • February 1 and February 6-May 19, 2024 (dates already booked + work commitments)
  • May 20, 2024 (date already booked)
  • July 29-September 2, 2024  (work commitments)
  • December 2, 2024-January 6, 2025 (work commitments + time off)
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 program alternative, I can prerecord a video of a presentation* (without a participating audience) to provide to you to post to your account for a mutually agreeable time period. I can also approve requests by host locations to post recordings of my presentations* online (usually for 30 days). *Recordings of The Science of Climate Change will not be approved.
Speaking fees & travel cost: Speaking fee base rate: $150. Minimum travel cost: $25 (varies 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 special program topics or special program formats, a higher fee and/or 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 downloadable program list PDF. A few new programs have been added as of January 2023!
  • 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 James Webb Space Telescope is in space and providing stunning images! Try NASA's Next Great Telescope.
  • 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. Try Skywatching With Your Eyes.
  • The next major solar eclipses will be on Oct 14, 2023 (43% coverage of the Sun in the Chicago area) and April 8, 2024 (94% coverage of the Sun in the Chicago area). Remember the eclipse craziness of 2017? It'll happen all over again. Try The Great North American Eclipse or Skywatching With Your Eyes.
My calendar is full for solar eclipse presentations prior to the October 2023 eclipse and almost full prior to the 2024 eclipse!
  • If you request a date for an eclipse-themed presentation, I will hold the date for you, but you will be required to confirm the date with me NO LATER THAN 6 months prior to your requested date. If the date is not confirmed, I will release it for another organization to book it.
  • If you would like to be placed on a waiting list for one of my already-booked eclipse program dates, please let me know. I cannot accommodate waiting list requests for dates from March 20 to April 8, 2024.
  • My calendar is now full prior to the October 2023 solar eclipse.
  • My available dates nearest to/prior to the April 2024 eclipse are currently in November and early December 2023, and then January 8, 9, 11, 15, 16, 18, 23, 25, & 30, 2024 and February 5, 2024. I am booked for all speaking dates from February 6, 2024 onward through the eclipse.


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