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Stargazing

Stargazing StarDomeWell, 2013 has started with a bang; we well and truly hit the ground running here in the Education Team.

 

As soon as I started back after the festive break, preparations began for BBC’s Stargazing Live. Here in Leicester it was the University of Leicester’s turn to host and we were there as well, offering our support.

The planned event was packed full of things to do. The activities included lectures from expert scientists, make your own meteorite ice cream, telescope handling sessions and space to observe the night sky. We took along our van loaded with goodies to help out.

We had our inflatable planetarium, the StarDome, so that visitors could see the stars despite the clouds; our remote controlled Mars rovers and also an array of equipment to show how space suits protect astronauts - plus a few meteorites on show for good measure.

Over 2500 people visited the university to learn about space and get involved with the activities. More than 150 of the visitors were taken on a tour of the night sky inside our StarDome, where we talked about the origins of the constellations and the death of stars, with a little bit of Harry Potter sprinkled in for good measure!

Over at our astronaut-training stand we had help from some local students in preparing people for the dangers of space travel. Visitors were put through their paces in a series of tests to ensure they would be ready to go into space. We also had lots of hands-on demonstrations to highlight how their space suit would keep them safe.

They learnt that an increase in velocity can turn a harmless paper rocket into a lethal piercing dart, how a space suit prevents you freezing to death and even the reason behind astronauts wearing nappies – or maximum absorption garments as they are actually known.

Just to make things more interesting, we had on show three meteorites and two pieces of coprolite (fossilised dinosaur poo) and visitors were asked to distinguish between them.

In the Lego Mars rover area, visitors could compete to prove their navigation skills on our Martian surface, avoiding rocks and fending off aliens in an attempt to get the highest score. The competition was fierce and the next generation of space rover engineers may well have been discovered.

As we all know, not everyone can win, but luckily for those who didn’t quite top the league table the meteorite ice cream stand was just opposite. Made with liquid nitrogen, the ice cream made a delicious treat after the concentration of rover driving.

We all had a fantastic time participating, and everyone we saw and spoke to on the night agreed that it was a brilliant event. It was great to see so many people, of all ages, so interested in learning more about space.

With the last few stargazing events taking place this week, we can start to look forward to the rest of the month, and it looks like a busy one! We have lots planned so keep your eyes peeled, as we will no doubt be telling you about all of our exciting adventures in the coming weeks.

From our Blog:

Shuttle launch in the Challenger Learning Centre.As we wave goodbye to the summer we are ready to welcome all of our school visitors back to the National Space Centre. We are especially excited as we have a multitude of new goodies ready to offer for the new school year!

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Scouting and Guiding:

Fantastic packages for Scouting and Guiding Groups.

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Space Missions:

Blast off on one of our specatacular space missions!

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