I see the moon, and the moon sees me, God bless the moon, and God bless me! These are the first lines that I ever performed. I was four and they have stayed with me ever since. The moon and stars are endlessly fascinating to us. Luckily the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich has two exhibitions on at the moment celebrating celestial bodies enabling you to have a Space Day Out.
Let’s start with the moon. 50 years ago man landed on the moon for the first time. When I was a child the Apollo missions were the subject of endless fascination, everybody wanted to be an astronaut when they grew up. This exhibition celebrates the moon. It starts by looking at our ancient fascination, lunar charts, how it affects our mental health and feelings of romance. On show is the first ever sketch of the moon made through a telescope not by Galileo but by Englishman Thomas Harriot.
Who hasn’t gazed at the moon and pondered life, the universe and everything at some point. At the centre of the exhibition is a place where you can sit down on a comfy chair and watch the silent progression of pictures captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter whilst listening to Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune’. This is one of the most relaxing experiences I have had in a long time.
Then we move onto the American and Soviet moon missions of the 1960’s and 1970’s. One object that stood out for me was an old fax machine. Not that it looked like any fax machine I ever knew. The boffins at Jodrell Bank intercepted signals from the Soviet Luna 9 probe and recognised them as fax signals. They reckoned that if they could lay their hands on a fax machine (cutting edge technology at the time) they would be able to see the images that Luna 9 was taking. An agreement was reached with the Daily Express to use their machine. The first image taken up close of the moon was intercepted and published in the Daily Express much to the chagrin of the Soviet authorities.
A word about moon rock. At some point in the 70s some moon rock came to Norwich Castle Museum. We went to see it. I was so frightened of catching moon diseases from the rock that I wouldn’t go anywhere near it. There is moon rock on display here, I was very brave and looked at it.
The exhibition ends with pondering what next for the moon. Who owns the moon?
Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019
I love snapping away with my camera phone and my Panasonic G7 and seeing the finalists and winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year makes me realise that I have a lot to learn! For a start, the startling images on display are rarely the result of one single snap but rather many carefully staged photos artfully edited together. Like these stunning images of aurorae.
Some deploy telescopes. Martin Lewis constructed his own Dobsonian Newtonian reflecting telescope in his garden to take this image of Noontime Venus. It was my favourite image in the whole selection and merely highly commended.
Space Day Out
- The Moon Exhibition
- Open: Daily 10am – 5pm
- Admission: Adult £9, Child £4.50
- Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition
- Open: Daily 10am – 5pm until 26 April 2020
- Admission: £10 adult, £5 child
- See both exhibitions with a reduced price combined ticket Adult £13.50, child £6.75
Greenwich has many enticing places to visit, whilst you are there why not take in some of Cultural Wednesday’s favourites.
Disclosure: Royal Museums Greenwich invited me for a Space Day Out, all opinions and a penchant for moon gazing are my own.