Beam me up, Scotty
The National Lottery receives many unusual requests, but few can match the one from a devoted Star Trek fan who asked for funding to help build a replica of the Starship Enterprise. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fulfil this request, but to mark Star Trek Day on 8th September (the day the first episode of the TV series went to air in 1966) we decided to look at 5 off-the-planet projects made possible by The National Lottery.
Jodrell Bank Observatory
The Lovell Telescope, the observatory’s main telescope (pictured), has a diameter of 76m – the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world. It has helped scientists learn about meteoroids, quasars and pulsars and was heavily involved with tracking space probes at the start of the Space Race that began in the 1950s. The Cheshire observatory’s incredible story will be told via the First Light Project, a new interpretation centre being built with the help of £12.1Million from The National Lottery. The Observatory has been closed during the lockdown, but re-opened to the public on 22nd August. Find out more at www.jodrellbank.net.
The National Space Centre
Looking to get up close to a real space rocket? Leicester’s National Space Centre has several of them including Blue Streak, PGM 17 Thor and one of only three Soyuz spacecraft outside of Russia. It’s also got a planetarium that can make you feel like you’ve gone into orbit. The Centre, which opened to the public in 2001, was built with the help of a £26Million grant from The National Lottery. The Centre re-opened to the public on 8th August. Find out more at spacecentre.co.uk.
Set in a forest a few miles from the Scottish border, the Kielder Observatory (pictured) is one of the best places in the UK to look at the stars. That’s because this part of Northumberland has some of the darkest skies in Europe, thanks to the extremely low levels of light pollution. The coronavirus forced the observatory to close its doors to visitors, but with the help of money from the Heritage Emergency Fund – a £50Million pot of money made possible by National Lottery players – it is once again helping people of all ages go stargazing. Make sure you check out the collection of meteorites. Find out more at kielderobservatory.org.
The Glasgow Science Centre
Did you know NASA named one of its space shuttles after the Discovery, an Antarctic exploration vessel that is docked in Dundee? Or that Tom Reid, the director of the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station in Australia that received the first pictures of the moon in 1969, was born in Scotland and earned a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Glasgow?
The Glasgow Science Centre (which opened in July 2001 with the help of a £36Million grant from The National Lottery, pictured) has temporarily shut its doors as a result of the coronavirus, but space fans can check out its website for all sorts of interstellar information, at www.glasgowsciencecentre.org.
Wales’ largest science and discovery centre says 1st September is the day it will be able to provide more information about reopening. In the meantime, it’s been releasing a daily dose of science on its Facebook page. We particularly like this demonstration of how to make a balloon rocket. It may not get you to the Moon, but you won’t need a NASA-sized budget to try it and you’ll have a lot of fun. See more at www.techniquest.org.
2nd September 2020
Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre photo © Ant Holloway
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