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The passing of a true British institution

12 December 2012 by Angela

Image of jupiter and earth in the planetarium

Here’s John Moran, Education demonstrator at the Planetarium paying tribute to Sir Patrick Moore:


Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell Moore CBE, FRS, FRAS to give him his full title sadly passed away last week but he leaves behind a true legacy of not only astronomical knowledge but also of broadcasting over 50 years to which I am personally very grateful. The Sky at Night is the longest continuous show in British television history and is still going strong.  Read more…

How many planets can you see?

5 March 2012 by Lisa

It’s planet-hunting time! Here’s John Moran from the planetarium to tell us what to look out for this month…


Planets in the night sky

Planetary conjunction with Venus and Jupiter. Image courtesy of Peter Vandevelde from the astronomie.be website.

During March there will be more planets on view that you can shake a reflecting telescope at! Even if you have an obstructed view of part of the sky there will still be a planet or two to look at in the part of the sky that you can see.

At around 9pm we will still have Venus shining bright in the extreme west of the sky; in the south there is Jupiter, south-east there is Mars and finally in the east we have Saturn. If that doesn’t get you excited then nothing will. It’s at times like this that I wish I had a telescope with ‘go-to technology’ – just press a button and it finds your target instantly. Plus, you can also hook it up to a laptop. Sounds brill doesn’t it? 

On the 13 March we have a planetary conjunction with Venus and Jupiter. This is when two or more planets come very close together in the sky from our viewpoint, at which point they will be less than the width of a full moon apart. So, if you look through a telescope or binoculars they will be in the same field of view as each other. Try and notice from now on these two planets as they draw ever closer to each other. Read more…

February – celestial gems in the night

17 February 2012 by Lisa

Here’s John Moran, Education Demonstrator at the Planetarium, to tell us what to look out for in the night sky this month.


Orian

Orion – image courtesy of NASA.

There are still plenty of easily observable planets for your viewing delight this month. I came out of my house at 7.30pm a few days ago and there were three bright planets which seemed to be set up for anyone who can’t see the whole of the sky. There was Venus in the east, Jupiter directly above and Mars in the west. It doesn’t get much better than that! 

If that’s not enough, then later on we have the appearance of the ringed beauty Saturn which follows behind Mars in the west a few hours later. Me and a few colleagues went up on the fifth floor balcony of the of the museum on Friday 3 February and everything looked perfect. I set up two telescopes to view all of these planets and as soon as I started getting lined up on Venus, the clouds came along and just blanketed everything out!  Read more…

Counting down to the planetarium blast off!

27 January 2012 by Lisa

It’s almost time to re-open the planetarium now that all the refurbishment has been done. Our planetarium staff have been getting to grips with all the new equipment and here’s John Moran from the team to tell us more.


John and Jenny get their hands on the new planetarium equipment.

John and Jenny get their hands on the new planetarium equipment.

Well we’re getting very close to opening day here in the planetarium. We’ll be open again from Monday 30th of January and my colleagues and I are now almost up to speed with operating the new projection equipment.

We have had plenty of opportunity to view what the new projectors are capable of and all I can say is wow! For the time being we won’t have a huge selection of shows, as we are in the process of creating new ones, so we do need our kind visitors to bear with us for a while. But what we have got will blow your socks off.

The first of our new shows will be ‘Chronicle of a journey to earth’. In this show an intergalactic traveller reaches our part of the galaxy looking for somewhere to settle and as he moves towards the sun he examines comets, planets, asteroids and earth. You will be able to follow the traveller’s path and see close up what today’s science has discovered about each of the components of our solar system.

With the new equipment we will also be able to run fantastic live presenter-led shows. We will be able to talk to visitors while we show constellations, the movements of the sun, moon, planets and deep sky objects. We will also be able to show the planets as close or as far away as we like.

We’re looking forward to running shows and seeing what the general public think of their new planetarium. Get ready for blast off folks, its going to be good.

Behind the scenes – planetarium refurbishment

13 January 2012 by Lisa

Work has begun on our wonderful new planetarium! Here’s John Moran from the planetarium to tell us how it’s going so far…


Staff in the planetarium

The refurbishment of the Planetarium is now under way! Standing there watching as this historic part of the museum was being ripped out, which has been a part of my life for 7 years, I couldn’t believe how brutal everything seemed. Our star projector was stripped down to the bear bones and all the wires and connections were pulled out and snipped with wire cutters. I think I actually felt every cut!

But I know that the end result will be worth it. The shelving which surrounds the seats has now been removed, so this makes the Planetarium seem much bigger. When the work is finished it will look as though the dome is actually floating in mid-air. It’s going to be a fantastic experience for visitors! Watch this space for further progress reports. Read more…

Planets to spot in January

10 January 2012 by Lisa

Here’s our Planetarium demonstrator, John Moran, to tell us what planets we can look out for in the night sky this month…


Saturn

Saturn. Image courtesy of NASA.

Hope you’re all over your Christmas hangovers! Well if you’re looking for a good way to involve the kids in science without having to go anywhere, then you should get out in the back garden. There are planets galore this month in the night sky for those of you with telescopes.

Jupiter, the king of planets, is unmistakable as it is so bright. Try viewing the Galilean’s (which are the four planet sized moons orbiting this gas giant, named after the man who discovered them, Galileo) at about 8pm. Check the position of the moons, then leave your telescope set up and go back to it two hours later and you will find that the moons have changed position. Also look for the equatorial bands and the great Red Spot on Jupiter too. It’s a really rewarding object to view.

Next up is the home to many a spaceman story, the red planet Mars. Swing your telescope towards the east at around about 10pm (but the kids should be in bed by now!) and look for Mars behind the constellation of Leo. Again, it is unmistakable as it is clearly red and it doesn’t twinkle. If you’re lucky you may get to see the polar icecaps.

Lastly, for our viewing pleasure, we have the ringed beauty Saturn following behind Mars from 1am. Your telescope will clearly show off the gorgeous ring system and the gap between rings and planet. Nothing will prepare you for the first time you see the rings of Saturn, it truly is one of the most breathtaking sights. See what you think when you first glimpse it and let me know… Read more…

A new era for the museum’s planetarium

20 December 2011 by Lisa

Staff at the World Museum are getting very excited, as a generous donation has meant that a massive refurbishment can go ahead on the much-loved planetarium!

It will be closed from 4 – 30 January 2012, but here’s planetarium demonstrator John Moran to tell us what fantastic new facilities will be available in the new year…


I used to get asked, “Are there any changes coming to the Planetarium anytime soon?” My answer would always be, “Only if a private benefactor with deep pockets decides they;d like to invest some money into the planetarium!”. But I never believed for a moment that it would happen. Read more…

December delight in the night sky

9 December 2011 by Lisa

Here’s our Planetarium demonstrator and resident star-gazer, John Moran, to tell us what to look out for in the night sky this month…


Composite wide angle camera image taken during the peak of 2010's Geminids.

Composite wide angle camera image taken during the peak of 2010’s Geminids.

Who needs X-Factor, I’m a Celebrity or Strictly Come Dancing when there is so much viewing pleasure in the night sky above you?

For starters there is the king of planets Jupiter, which you may have already seen but not realised. If you have noticed an unusually bright star directly above your head you have actually been looking at the gas giant with the great red spot. A pair of small binoculars is enough to see its four main moons orbiting either side of it. If you have access to a telescope you should be able to see the equatorial bands running through the planet. Read more…

Stargazing evening – see Jupiter in the flesh!

11 January 2011 by Lisa

It seems that everyone is going stargazing crazy at the moment and as we’re passionate about the night sky, we’re joining in! Here’s one of our planetarium demonstrators, John Moran, to tell us about a special stargazing evening at the museum this week…


Woman with a telescope

Staff at the museum getting the telescopes ready!

To coincide with the BBC’s Stargazing Live, which runs from the 3-16 January, myself and the rest of the planetarium staff at World Museum will be hosting a stargazing night on Thursday 13 January from 4.30 to 6.30pm . We will be setting up a number of telescopes and binoculars on the fifth floor of the museum so our visitors can get a closer look at the night sky.  See the ‘gas giant’ Jupiter and its four main planet-sized moons and the craters of our own moon up close and in sharp focus.  Read more…

My lucky garden

29 December 2010 by Lisa

Want to spot some shooting stars and a partial solar eclipse in the new year? Here’s our planetarium demonstrator John Moran to tell you how!


There is a double celestial event to whet your appetite this January! As a starter, in the early hours of the 4 January we will be treated to the Quantadrids, which is one of the most abundant annual meteor showers of the year with 60 to 120 shooting stars per hour. Providing the sky is clear you will be pretty much guaranteed to see shooting stars galore. A dark location would be ideal but even from a built up area you shouldn’t be disappointed. I once watched the Perseids from my garden and got to see at least a dozen meteors, with one of them even breaking apart mid-flight.

Next we have a partial solar eclipse. At precisely 8.27am the moon will start to cover the surface of the Sun and even though it is only a partial eclipse, we can still expect to see about 75 per cent of the sun’s disc obscured by the moon.

I remember in 1999 when the UK had a total solar eclipse from the south west of England and partial eclipse everywhere else. I was stood in my garden again, in the city centre of Liverpool with my family and it was crystal clear. Patrick Moore the eminent astronomer, star of ‘The Sky at Night’ and personal hero of mine, was on the south coast with many other professionals and armatures alike. There were lots of tv cameras there, as it was live on the BBC, but they were completely clouded out! Read more…

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