Fernbank Science Center: Free Fun for Inquisitive Minds

If you are looking for a fun, inexpensive outing with kids, try the Fernbank Science Center and the Fernbank planetarium, which is one of the largest in the United States. The Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta, GA has free admission, while the planetarium shows are only a few dollars.

Ready to learn more? Here’s everything you need to know about the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Courtesy Fernbank Science Center


It’s easy to confuse the Fernbank Science Center with the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, but although the two share a first name, they are very different. The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is the newer museum with the dinosaurs, an IMAX theatre, NatureQuest indoor playground, and WildWoods.

The Fernbank Science Center is tucked in a residential neighborhood nearby. It has some dinosaurs too, but its real claim to fame is an authentic Apollo 6 command module from the unmanned Apollo 6 Saturn V test flight, and the Fernbank Planetarium.

Another big difference is price. Like most museums in Atlanta, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History has an admission fee. Several Atlanta museums offer free admission days, but The Fernbank Science Center has free admission every day! There is a small fee for the planetarium shows.

In addition to the exhibits and planetarium shows, you can bring a picnic to enjoy on one of the picnic tables at the center.



The Jim Cherry Memorial Planetarium has a 500-seat theater with a 70 foot dome, and a digital projection system creating quite an immersive experience.

The DeKalb County School System owns the Fernbank Science Center, and interestingly, the planetarium is the only major planetarium owned and operated by a public school system. It’s also one of the largest in the United States.

The planetarium utilizes the complex Zeiss Mark V planetarium projector in conjunction with SPITZ SciDome 4K Laser projection system. 


Shows at the Fernbank Planetarium vary with the seasons. Although they cater to school group field trips, the theater is also open to the public. For those that are really into star gazing, you can purchase a stargazer card. When you see seven shows, you get the eighth free.

Programs are approximately 30 minutes. Make sure everyone in your party has gone to the bathroom before entering. There is no readmission into the planetarium if you leave the theater. If you have young children under 10, the family programs are geared toward you. Other public programs are targeted toward adults and kids 10 and up.

Admission to the planetarium shows are $10 for adults 19+, $5 for kids ages 3-18, and $5 for seniors 62+. Tickets for the planetarium shows can be purchased online in advance or at the door. Check their calendar to see their program schedule.


If you’d like to see the real night sky, the Fernbank Science Center also has observatory shows that are open to the public at the The Dr. Ralph L. Buice, Jr. Observatory.

Free public observations are offered every Thursday and Friday evening from 9:00 – 10:00 PM (weather permitting).  The observatory will open only when there is a clear view of the night sky. Please call 678-874-7102 between 8:30 PM and 9:00 PM on the night of your planned visit for observatory updates.


Among the permanent exhibits in the exhibit hall at the Fernbank Science Center are portrayals of the natural environment and vanishing habitats of Georgia, featuring mounted taxidermy specimens, and a few live animals.

One of the highlights of the Fernbank Science Center is their astronomy displays. Astronomy displays include Fernbank’s meteorite collection and an authentic Apollo spacecraft. The unmanned Apollo 6 Command Module was launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 4, 1968 and recovered in the Pacific Ocean 10 hours later. The real Command Module, on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, is on display in the FSC exhibit hall.

Another permanent exhibit at Fernbank Science Center is their live animals. You’ll see everything from poison dart frogs to bees, spiders, and more. The honey bee observation hive is especially cool to see.

Please note, there is no longer access to Fernbank Forest from the science center — you can access the forest from the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.


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Fernbank Science Center: Free Fun for Inquisitive Minds