When Neil Armstrong first stepped off Apollo 11 and onto the moon’s cratered surface, he was certainly a long way from home – around 238,855 miles to be precise. Little did he know that, half a century later, someone would have eaten the first lettuce grown in space and talks would have started about taking our cosmic cossies for a holiday on Mars. Advancements in space technology and our understanding of the dark unknown is staggering. Our own solar system, formed 4.6 billion years ago, is found within the Milky Way – a spiral galaxy which is thought to contain 100-400 billion stars and is 100,000 light-years across. All these stars, including our own sun, orbit around a supermassive black hole – but don’t worry, this is a safe 28,000 light-years away.
The sheer scale of what we now know is astounding, but there is still much more out there to discover. Inspire the next Neil Armstrong this spring with spectacular celestial phenomenons including a Snow Moon on 19th February (a full moon named after the snow on the ground) and a supermoon on 21st March (appearing bigger and brighter than usual). Marvel at the Milky Way and go loony over lunar sightings, here are the top ways to explore the galaxy from the safety of planet earth.
Life Science Centre
When? 2nd February until 31st March 2019
What? An internationally-acclaimed exhibition by UK artist Luke Jerram, including a seven-metre-wide Moon magically suspended in the air
Why should we go? It’s created a sensation across the world, from India to Australia, and now the Museum of the Moon will shine in Newcastle. An enchanting and jaw-dropping collection, this artwork fuses imagery captured by a NASA spacecraft with the awe-inspiring surround sound of BAFTA award-winning composer, Dan Jones. The giant Moon exhibit will allow you to visit outer space and see every detail of the cratered surface, even exploring its mysterious dark side. For those who really want to find out if the cheese rumours are true, Life is offering visitors the opportunity to book a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience at the Supermoon Supper on 21st March – the night of the spectacular supermoon itself.
Where? Kielder Village, Northumberland
When? Events throughout March
What? An astronomical observatory where you can gaze up into some of the clearest night skies in the world
Why should we go? In the heart of Kielder Forest, this observatory is the third largest protected dark sky reserve in the world and will provide infinite inspiration. With a whole host of events this month, open your mind to the wonder above. The Full Moon Party will fill you with new-found admiration for the celestial sphere that shapes our monthly calendar, whilst the Night Sky Safari will find you spotting planets, star clusters and galaxies like a professional astronomer. Yet one of the highlights of the month has to be the Aurora Night. Combining spiritual stories and scientific facts, the passionate astronomy team will enchant you with this natural light show. On cold nights the log fire and famous hot chocolate will keep you cosy. Take your drinks outside and lie back on the ‘Moon chairs’ to gaze at the galaxies above.
Northumberland Astronomical Society
Where? Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre, Low Hauxley
When? 28th March 2019, 7:30pm-9pm
What? Bi-monthly meeting of the Northumberland Astronomical Society (NASTRO)
Why should we go? Join one of the active society’s twice monthly meetings at the beautiful Hauxley Nature Reserve. Here you’ll meet budding stargazers and professional astronomers who will share expert advice on how to spot the wonders of the universe. Using telescopes at the Hauxley Observatory, you are in the perfect place to start ticking off sightings on your constellation wish-list.