As part of our celestial celebrations for National Astronomy Week, we have been joined at the Centre by Kieran and Chris from Let’s Talk About Space. The dynamic space duo will be presenting their unique astronomy show in the planetarium daily until Sunday.
I joined a school group during their visit to the planetarium and Kieran and Chris took us on a guided tour of the solar system through music, poetry, spoken word and film and animation. First up was a poem that describes the journey from The Big Bang to life, and Earth as we know it.
The highlight of the show for me was the musical performances and the first song was “Laika.” The song was inspired by the first animal to orbit the earth on board the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 in the late 1950’s. The pupils, and GSC staff, were dancing in their chairs and clapping to the beat as Chris and Kieran belted out their tribute, playing a variety of instruments including a glockenspiel! For anyone who has been in the dark depths of the planetarium, you can understand how difficult this must be.
Our journey of the Solar System began, first stop- the Sun. The pupils (and me) learned all about the star that provides us with heat, light and enables life to grow. Back to the Big Bang- not Dr Sheldon Cooper but the prevailing cosmological model for the early development of the universe-and how when the sun was first born from the Big Bang it was like a factory for producing metals and gases and all the other elements. It spat all of this matter out into Space which then slowly formed into planets over billions and billions of years. The building blocks of the solar system, the earth and you and me were created in the fires of the sun!
The journey continued, stopping at each of the 8 planets of the solar system and discussing what makes them unique. We learned how Venus had oceans like earth but they evaporated, how iron oxide (rust) covers Mars giving it its red colour, Jupiter is 1,000 times the size of the earth, Saturn is the lightest planet ,Uranus is the only planet to spin on its side and how Neptune is the coldest place in the Solar System. It was then time for another musical performance, “Sailing to the Moon”. Check out the amazing video below:
This led us on to, appropriately, space travel. This made me realise how incredible it is that less than 50 years ago the Apollo 11 rocket launched and Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon. You can now book a seat on Virgin Galactic for a holiday to space! We are asked to close our eyes for a poem recital next, which you will all know…Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star…reworked and all 5 verses which you may not be as familiar with.
Upon opening our eyes, drawings of the constellations have been added to the twinkling canopy of stars. The presenters pointed out key constellations in the sky and told us about the mythology surrounding them- hunter Orion being eaten by a scorpion sent by Mother Earth and the beautiful Callisto being transformed into a bear by Zeus’ jealous wife. Who needs Corrie or Easties?
The last song of the show is called Ursa Minor about a bear called Ursa, who on seeing a bright light in the sky travels to the impact site to find a glowing sphere. When Ursa wakes up in the morning, he has been transformed- not only has he five eyes, but his fur is green as he becomes an intergalactic extra-terrestrial!
I always gauge the success of programme and events at the Centre – be it a show, workshop or lab- by the reaction of the audience. Let’s Talk About Space, is a definite hit. From the moment Kieran and Chris started the journey through the Solar System, the audience was captivated- dancing and cheering to the music, in awe of the animations coupled with the stars from the planetarium and enthralled by Kieran and Chris presentation. The show is a lot of fun and I am sure Kieran and Chris will inspire our visitors to take an active interest in astronomy and space. Make sure you catch the show at the planetarium over the weekend.
WRITTEN BY SHARON LYONS.