Mooning about

February 25, 2008

I am pleased to report that the planetarium visit was really very good. If I were to be at all wise after the event I would say I would say that I would have preferred to see more action from the star projector itself, but hey, we did go to a presentation on moons so there were a lot of “slide” projections of moon pictures, albeit on the inside of the dome. BishWife went to sleep.

The presenter was very good though. Talked for a whole hour on his subject without any appreciable ummig and erring or, given how dark it was, referring much to any notes. There was an interesting edict given at the beginning of the session for children to take off any shoes containing flashing LEDs. Apparently it is so dark in the dome that the light quite spoils the show!

Anyway it’s an interesting setup once you’ve found your way there by some very dubious roads. Based in what looks like an old barn, apart from the dome itself the attractions feature a waxworks of Sir Patrick Moore on loan from Madame Tussuad’s in London, several old telescopes, a cabinet full of meteorites, a model of the solar system of course, and a plethora of cosmic posters. Upstairs, there’s a library and computer suite where various astronomical and satellite programs run for the edification of visitors.

But most impressive of course is the projector itself: a huge black structure resembling nothing so much as a giant ant, bristling with lenses and attachments of unknown purpose, which swivels, tilts and revolves in various configurations to project an entire night sky on the inside of the dome. Really very convincing when the lights are out. The seats appear to be recycled from aircraft, in blocks of three, arranged in three concentric circular rows. Quite comfy. Did I mention BishWife went to sleep?

By fantastic coincidence there was also the most amazing sliver of new moon hanging in the sky in front of us on the drive over, a bit like this picture from stargazing.net. I can hardly recall seeing such a teeny, tiny slice. What BishBro4 might have called in his youth a “toenail moon”. Quite so.

So yes, do go, but go on a night when the star projector is operating. I suspect you will not be disappointed.

PS. No evidence of a G8 summit taking place on any of the moons in our solar system I’m sorry to say.

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