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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


Nov 6 - 7 pm - NASA's Great Telescope - Vernon Area Public Library

Nov 13 - 7 pm - Artemis: Return To the Moon - Geneva Public Library

Nov 30 - 7 pm - Artemis: Return To the Moon - Prospect Heights Public Library

Dec 5 - 6:30 pm - The Great North American Eclipse - Joliet Public Library

Dec 11 - 7 pm - Armchair Tour of the Solar System - Brookfield Public Library

Dec 19 - 7 pm - Artemis: Return To the Moon  - Glenside Public Library

I will post my January through March 2024 program dates near the end of 2023.

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
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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. 
My calendar is now full through May 27, 2024. I am only accepting requests for presentations on/after May 28, 2024 (generally Mondays, Tuesdays, & Thursdays).
When I am unavailable:
  • Dates booked by other institutions (see list above in My Upcoming Presentations)
  • Wednesdays, Fridays, and weekends
  • May 20, 21, 23, 2024 (booked dates)
  • June 10, 2024 (booked date)
  • June 14-September 26, 2024
  • October 8, 2024 (booked date)
  • October 14-31, 2024
  • November 12, 2024 (booked date)
  • December 2, 2024-January 6, 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 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, though longer times are possible, depending on the program; please inquire). *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 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 late 2024. 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

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