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Royal Society Exhibition has strong astro presence
BY KEITH COOPER
ASTRONOMY NOW

Posted: June 30, 2009


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The Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society in London kicks off today with a healthy dose of astronomy amongst the 26 exhibits that the public will be able to view.

Scientists from the Herschel and Planck space missions (including Dr Nick Seymour of UCL on the right) will be on hand to answer questions about the spacecraft and the science they will be conducting. Image: Keith Cooper/Astronomy Now.

Visitors will be able to fly on a 3D tour of the Universe courtesy of astronomers from Durham University, the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and the Digital Learning Foundation. The visual extravaganza takes you from the Solar System, flying through space to the Orion Nebula, then out from our Milky Way Galaxy and hurtling through intergalactic space on an amazing journey through the Hubble Deep Field to the ‘dark ages’, half a billion years or so after the big bang. Manned by researchers from Durham University, their ‘Cosmic Origins’ exhibit also contains a ‘galaxy wars’ game where visitors can hurl galaxies at one another using a Nintendo Wii game controller. There are posters, photographs and various simulations that shed light on how we model the origin of galaxies, plus free pens, stickers and lenticular cards to give away to younger visitors.

The Cosmic Origins display. Image: Keith Cooper/Astronomy Now.

Scientists working on the European Space Agency’s Herschel and Planck missions, which launched this May, have also put on an impressive exhibit, with interactive touch-screen displays, models of the SPIRE instrument on Herschel and the spacecraft, plus you can talk to the scientists themselves and find out more about the two biggest science missions Europe has ever launched.

Rounding off the astro-themed displays are staff and students from Simon Langton Grammar School, who have conducted an impressive range of projects including searching for near-Earth objects with the likes of the Faulkes Telescopes in Hawaii and Australia, and even cosmic ray research. Attendees visiting their stand on Thursday 2 July will also get a chance to meet space tourist Richard Garriot, who flew to the International Space Station last year.

A friendly team from Durham University will help visitors learn about how the Milky Way formed. Image: Keith Cooper/Astronomy Now.

You can find out more about the exhibition at http://www.summerscience.org.uk. It runs until Saturday 4 July, between 10am to 9pm this Tuesday, and from 10am to 5pm on subsequent days. Entry is free but children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. You can also download a version of the movie (not 3D) from the Durham University website, http://www.dur.ac.uk/n.s.holliman/CosmicOrigins.html, but it doesn’t beat seeing it in person in 3D, so make sure you get down to the Royal Society this week!

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