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Blast off! Out of this world family fun for little astronauts

Sarah Ebner

31 January 2017

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2 minutes
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If your children are crazy about space, this list of intergalactic-themed days out will be right up their street (or galaxy).

 

1. The National Space Centre, Leicester

A trip here should be top of any space enthusiast’s list. It’s a great destination for all ages and you can see two real rockets! The centre has a range of excellent interactive activities from creating your own planet to assembling a rocket out of sponges. It also houses the largest planetarium in the UK. There’s lots to see which means lots of walking for little ones though.

The best part of any visit must be the Tranquility Star Base, which tells you which job you would be best suited for in space.

Insider’s tip: Don’t miss a trip to the Rocket Tower, where you will see the last piece of moon rock to be returned to earth.

2. Planetarium at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Greenwich is utterly beautiful and full of wonderful places to visit, including the Cutty Sark. Space explorers will particularly enjoy the Royal Observatory, where you can stand on the Meridian Line and the Peter Harrison Planetarium, where you can also touch a meteorite.

Insider’s tip: Leave enough time to explore the observatory so you don’t have to rush for the Planetarium show.

3. The World Museum, Liverpool

This museum has its own Space Gallery, where – among other things – you can see a Martian meteorite said to be around 163 million years old. There is also a very good planetarium for which you have to book.

Insider Tip: There are two cafes, but also a nice area for those who want to bring their own food.

4. Winchester Science Centre, Winchester

This is a terrific museum and will delight young astronauts as it’s full of hands-on activities, including soft play for toddlers in the basement.

Insider tip: This is a very busy place, so get there early if you want to get a ticket for the planetarium.

5. Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Macclesfield

Home to the Lovell, the third biggest telescope of its kind in the world, Jodrell Bank boasts both indoor and outdoor exhibitions, a lovely picnic area and small playground.

The Space Pavilion will be the main attraction for budding astronauts but we’d recommend taking children aged 8+ as there is a lot of reading involved.

Insider tip: The shop and cafe can be quite expensive so bring your own packed lunch.

6. The Science Museum, London

No one who’s interested in space can possibly miss this place, even if it’s only to see a full-sized replica of ‘Eagle’, the lander which took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin onto the moon back in 1969. But it’s also got so much more that, with its own Space Gallery and a very good flight simulator.

Insider’s tip: The museum itself is free, but if you can afford it, don’t leave without a trip to the 3D IMAX cinema, where space lovers will especially enjoy A Beautiful Planet or Hidden Universe.

7. The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux

Another gem for space (and science) fans, full of interesting exhibits with a castle and impressive gardens too!

It used to be a world-famous Royal Astronomical Observatory, so is best known for housing six famous telescopes. You can either take a guided tour or make your own way round. In the ‘earth and beyond’ gallery you can see the far side of the moon.

Insider’s tip: Children’s workshops are offered in school holidays.

8. At-Bristol, Bristol

This is a fantastic museum, and not just for future space cadets! It has a 3D digital planetarium – the only one of its kind in the UK – with shows for all ages.

It’s not cheap to get in, so you’ll want to get your money’s worth. That means taking time to enjoy the rest of the exhibits, which are very hands-on and range from learning about flight to creating giant bubbles.

Insider’s tip: This is in a lovely area, in Bristol’s harbourside, so take advantage and go exploring afterwards.

9. The Spaceguard Centre, Powys

This one’s for die-hard space buffs ideally aged 10 or over. It’s the only place in the UK dedicated to addressing the hazard of Near Earth objects - items such as meteorites and asteroids, which can collide with the earth. Since it’s a working observatory, visitors can only come inside on guided tours.

Insiders tip: This is in a remote location up a farm track, so don’t think you’re lost if you see sheep on the way!

10. Crawick Multiverse, Dumfries & Galloway

The newest attraction on the list, this is a celebration of space and art, and unlike anything else you will have seen. Landscape artist Charles Jencks has used an old open cast mine to create scenes of space, astronomy and cosmology, with grassy mounds (representing the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies), standing stones, a water gorge and an amphitheatre.

Insider tip: Bring a picnic and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

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Sarah Ebner

31 January 2017

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Sarah Ebner is an award-winning journalist who also runs the Family Travel Times blog with her two children

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