Michelle Nichols, M.Ed.

Official Website of Author, Astronomy Educator, and Speaker

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Astronomy Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Activities


Available Presentations & Dates

Available Presentations: The downloadable PDF below is a list of my current presentations, plus new programs that will be available in the near future. 
When I am available: Due to an ever-changing work schedule because of COVID-related impacts and an as-yet unknown opening date for the Adler Planetarium, my availability will change periodically during 2021 and 2022. If you have a date in mind for a program, please let me know and I can update you as to whether or not I am available. I am usually available on Monday through Thursday evenings, but this is only a general guideline. Please ask!
When I am unavailable:
  • Dates already booked by other institutions (see below)
  • Week of Thanksgiving
  • December 24-January 3
Presentations online or in-person: All my programs are available to be presented via the online platform of your choice. I have extensive experience using Zoom Meeting, Zoom Webinar, and Google Meet. Your organization is required to provide the online Zoom or Google account to use for the program. I also can post a video of a prerecorded presentation to YouTube for a mutually agreeable time period. If a presentation is in-person, mileage will be added to my base rate. See below.
Speaking fees & mileage: My speaking fee is $125 for online programs or prerecorded programs. For in-person programs, my fee is $125 plus mileage. Mileage varies by host location; please inquire and I can calculate the mileage for you.
Audio-visual and setup needs: My presentations generally utilize PowerPointTM. For in-person programs, I can bring my PC laptop, or if you would like me to use yours, I can either bring my presentation on a flash drive or if your computer is connected to the internet, I can access my presentation online via a secure account. My presentations generally require only a projector and a screen. If you don't have a projector with a VGA or HDMI connector cable, I can bring my own projector.
Age recommendations: All my programs are appropriate for 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. If you aren’t sure about the age recommendation for a program, please ask. I do not generally offer programs specifically for children, as these programs would be designed very differently from adult-age programs.
Looking for program connections or need some suggestions? A few ideas are below:
  • If you are a location that hasn't hosted me previously, I recommend starting with Armchair Tour of the Solar System, Through the Eyes of Hubble, Roving the Red Planet, or Skywatching With Your Eyes. These are the programs that have traditionally and consistently brought in the largest audiences.
  • March is Women's History Month. Program connection: Women in Astronomy, Women in Space Exploration
  • Does your institution have a telescope for patrons to check out? Try Skywatching with a Telescope.
  • There is a lunar eclipse on November 19, 2021,  May 15, 2022, and November 8, 2022. Program connection: Skywatching With Your Eyes.
  • The yearly anniversary of Earth Day is April 22. Program connection: The Science of Climate Change.
  • The next major telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled to launch no earlier than October 31, 2021. Program connection: Through the Eyes of Hubble.
  • 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 -- and possibly even more so this time since the path of the totality portion of the solar eclipse will be about 150 miles closer to Chicago than in 2017. Program connection: The Great North American Eclipse.
    • Words of advice: Please request your Jul-Aug-Sept-Oct 2023 and Nov-Mar 2024 solar eclipse presentation dates AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. I was fully booked-up for Jun-Jul-Aug 2017 eclipse presentations by Dec 2016. It's never too early to get on my calendar, but "too late" happens very quickly.
    • I will not be able to accept eclipse program requests for dates between March 30, 2024 and April 8, 2024.


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.


Ms. Nichols has 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.


Apr 22 - 7 pm - The Science of Climate Change - North Riverside Public Library

May 12 - 7 pm - Icy Worlds - Fremont Public Library

May 13 - 7 pm - Astronomy Using Your Eyes - Addison Public Library

May 18 - 6:30 pm - Roving the Red Planet - Huntley Public Library

May 25 - 6 pm ET/5 pm CT - The Space Race - Indianapolis (IN) Public Library

Jun 2 - 7 pm - Roving the Red Planet - Woodridge Public Library

Jun 8 - 7 pm - Space Food: Past, Present, and Future - Homer Township Library

Jun 15 - 7 pm - Through the Eyes of Hubble - Prospect Heights Public Library

Jun 17 - 7 pm - Armchair Tour of the Universe - Barrington Area Library

Jun 22 - 6:30 pm ET/5:30 pm CT - Armchair Tour of the Solar System - Indianapolis (IN) Public Library

Jun 29 - 7 pm - Looking for Earth Elsewhere - Rolling Meadows Public Library

Jul 12 - 6:30 pm - Roving the Red Planet - Bloomingdale Public Library

Jul 15 - 7 pm - Skywatching with Your Eyes - Barrington Area Library

Jul 26 - 7 pm - Icy Worlds - McHenry Public Library

Jul 27 - 6:30 pm - Armchair Tour of the Solar System - Palos Heights Public Library

Jul 29 - 7 pm - Searching for Earth Elsewhere - Antioch Public Library

Aug 2 - 7 pm - Through the Eyes of Hubble - Morton Grove Public Library

Aug 18 - 7 pm - Roving the Red Planet - Barrington Area Library

Aug 25 - 7 pm - The Space Race - North Riverside Public Library

Sept 7 - 7 pm - Roving the Red Planet - Messenger Public Library (North Aurora, IL)

Sept 21 - 6 pm - Shining a Light on Black Holes - Three Rivers Public Library

May 2021: Pre-recorded YouTube program for Dothan Houston County Library System, Ashford, AL

Please confirm program dates/times, registration requirements, and/or registration residency restrictions with individual program hosts. All programs are for hosts located in Illinois, unless otherwise stated.




For media inquiries or 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