Top Billing: Chaos for Kids


Many kids like the idea of blowing things up. In the Hayden Planetarium’s new space show, Cosmic Collisions, explosions are the name of the game. What may be surprising is that these blow-ups are not necessarily destructive.

Collisions like the one four-and-a-half billion years ago were responsible for creating the Earth’s moon, and in turn, seasonal weather and ocean tides. The show recreates the meteor that crashed to Earth 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the planet. As the narrator (a mellifluous Robert Redford) notes, the collision wiped out many of the big guys, but also gave mammals a chance to evolve.

The show also demonstrates how we can avoid a future calamitous collision, by flying a spacecraft near a meteor hurtling towards Earth, and altering its path by gravitational pull. What’s great about Cosmic Collisions is that preschoolers can enjoy the show, while older kids can learn more about the universe (and still enjoy the show). Note, however, that this is not the show for kids who are afraid of the dark, or very loud noises.

Special programs in conjunction with the new space show include a workshop, “Cosmic Splat!” on April 9 and June 10, where kids make craters and explore other collisions. There are workshops at 11am for children ages 4 and 5, and 1:30pm for ages 6 and 7; $35 for one parent and child. Older kids can get behind-the-scenes with an interactive Space Explorers program on April 11 at 4:30pm; $10 for a child ages 10 and up.

Cosmic Collisions is 20 minutes long, though the process of seeing the show is much longer, what with ticketing (which can be accomplished online) and getting in and out of the theater. The pre-show holding area (which someone near me compared to the pre-show at a Disney attraction) is worthy in its own right, with informative panels, a quiz (most 5-year-olds will do better than their parents), and a taped intro by Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the planetarium. At a preview of the new space show, Tyson noted that in the six years since the Rose Center opened, 25 million people had visited; the new space show is sure to increase that number dramatically.


Where: Rose Center/American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 81st Street When: The museum is open daily, 10am–5:45pm; the Rose Center is open on Fridays until 8:45pm. The Space Show is shown ever half-hour, Sunday–Thursday; and Saturday, 10:30am–4:30pm; Fridays till 7pm.

How much: Timed tickets to Cosmic Collisions (which include admission to the museum) are $22 adults, $16.50 students and seniors; $13 children. To reserve: (212) 769-5200 or

For more info: (212) 769-5100;