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: 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, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings. Beginning in March 2022, I am not available for weekday daytime presentation requests.
When I am unavailable:
  • Dates booked by other institutions (see below)
  • Week of Thanksgiving 2021 and 2022
  • December 24, 2021-January 3, 2022
  • January 10, 2022
  • February 7, 2022
  • All Wednesday evenings beginning March 2, 2022
  • August 2022
  • September 6-9, 2022
  • September 30, 2023 through October 14, 2023
  • March 21, 2024 through April 10, 2024
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 videoconferencing 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 current speaking fee base rate is $125 for online programs or prerecorded programs. For in-person programs, my fee is my base rate plus mileage (mileage is calculated using the GSA POV rate and rounded upward to the next $5 level). Mileage varies by host location; please inquire and I will gladly calculate the mileage for you. Note: Beginning with program inquiries received after January 1, 2022, my base rate will increase to $150, which is my first base rate increase in ~10 years.
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 my 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-focused 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 - though in reality, the launch may slip to at least late November 2021. Program connection: Through the Eyes of Hubble. Note: If/when the telescope launches, I will start offering a Webb Telescope-specific program. Due to the complexity of the launch and commissioning of the telescope, I will wait until all of that is successful before I can be assured that it is worth the effort to offer such a program. Launching big telescopes is hard, and launching this one is really hard!
  • 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 or Skywatching With Your Eyes.
    • Words of advice: Please request your Jul-to-Oct 2023 and Nov-to-Mar 2024 solar eclipse presentation dates AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. I was fully booked-up for Jun-to-Aug 2017 eclipse presentations by Dec 2016. It's never too early to get on my calendar, but "too late" happens very quickly.
      • Dates institutions have already requested to hold on my calendar for the 2023 and 2024 eclipses and/or dates that I cannot book programs due to work commitments related to the eclipses:
        • September 30, 2023 through October 14, 2023
        • March 14, 2024 - Held for Aurora Public Library Eola Branch
        • March 19, 2024 - Held for Schaumburg Township District Library
        • March 20, 2024 through April 10, 2024 - work commitments
    • If you request a date for an eclipse presentation in 2023 and 2024, I will hold the date for you when you request it, but you MUST confirm the date with me NO LATER THAN 6 months prior to your requested date, otherwise I will release that date for another organization to book it. To maximize opportunities for as many organizations as possible, there are no exceptions to this rule.


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.


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

Oct 19 - 7 pm - Through the Eyes of Hubble - Schaumburg Township District Library

Oct 21 - 7 pm - Through the Eyes of Hubble - Lake Villa Public Library

Oct 25 - 7 pm - Skywatching With Your Eyes - Oak Lawn Public Library

Oct 26 - 7 pm - Through the Eyes of Hubble - Flossmoor Public Library

Oct 27 - 7 pm - Searching for Earth Elsewhere - Geneva Public Library

Oct 28 - 7 pm - Through the Eyes of Hubble - Algonquin Area Library

Nov 4 - 7 pm - Skywatching with Your Eyes - Blue Island Public Library

Nov 9 - 7 pm - Through the Eyes of Hubble - Ford Memorial Library (Western Springs)

Nov 11 - 7 pm - Armchair Tour of the Universe - Addison Public Library

Nov 15 - 7 pm - Pluto Revealed - Bloomingdale Public Library

Nov 16 - 7 pm - Armchair Tour of the Solar System - St. Charles Public Library

Nov 30 - 7 pm - Through the Eyes of Hubble - Lake Bluff Public Library

Nov 29 - 6 pm - Skywatching with Your Eyes - Kenosha (WI) Public Library

Dec 6 - 6 pm - Armchair Tour of the Solar System - Kenosha (WI) Public Library

Dec 7 - 6:30 pm ET - Icy Worlds - Indianapolis (IN) Public Library

Dec 9 - 7 pm - Armchair Tour of the Solar System - Bartlett Public Library

Dec 13 - 6 pm - Through the Eyes of Hubble - Kenosha (WI) Public Library

Dec 14 - 7 pm - Armchair Tour of the Solar System  - Fountaindale Public Library

Jan 5 - 7 pm - Skywatching with Your Eyes - Niles Maine Public Library

Jan 11 - 6:30 pm - Roving the Red Planet - Deerfield Public Library

Jan 31 - 7 pm - Icy Worlds - Bloomingdale Public Library

Apr 19 - 7 pm - Icy Worlds  - Riverside Public Library

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.





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