Wednesday 6 November 2013

A World Wide Film Premier at the National Space Centre!

Hello, Phil here; Kimberley has asked me to write this post as apparently it is a "boy" topic, and as I am "Geek", I am the best person for the job!

No we have that out of the way, this weekend, we were very kindly invited to a blogger event at the National Space Centre here in Leicester, for the World Wide Premier of "Back to the Moon for Good", a brand new planetarium film that, over the next year or so, will be shown in planetariums all over the world.

The national space centre was opened in 2001 and welcomes around a quarter of a million visitors per year from all over the world. It is only a few miles from our home, but although I drive by it most days, we have never visited. It has been something that I have wanted to do for years, so I was very excited when Kimberley told me about the invite.

We arrived at around 11:30am, having missed the blogger breakfast because Ruby had a ballet exam in the morning (I'm sure Kimberley will blog about this soon). On arrival we were presented with some VIP badges to wear, and the girls were given a cuddly space toy each, which was a really nice touch and immediately sparked Ruby's interest in all things space.

In the main entrance is a space rocket that spans practically the whole height of the huge building that dominates the Leicester skyline, it really is a sight to behold!

The centre hosts a large number of exhibits, some of which are relics from our planet's history of space travel, and others are interactive games and experiments which are a fantastic way of helping children and adults to understand space travel and the science that has made it happen.

I found all of the exhibits fascinating, especially a replica of the Columbus Module from the International Space Station.

We spent a couple of hours exploring the space centre before heading to one of the conference rooms for a bloggers lunch. The lunch was spectacular, and catered perfectly to both adults and children! It was great fun chatting with all of the other bloggers, and Ruby loved playing with all of the children. After lunch, and in preparation for the film premier, we were invited to sample a large range of  "Gourmet Popcorn", including flavors such as Strawberry Cheesecake and Curry, amongst others. I thought this was a really nice touch and prepared us well for the film.

By this time, a fairly large queue had formed for the planetarium. Much to the annoyance of most of the people in the queue, the side doors to the planetarium were opened and our "VIP" status for the day meant that we were ushered in ahead of the general public.

We were there to see the world wide premier of a specially designed planetarium film called "Back to the Moon for Good!". As I discovered, the planetarium, which is effectively a big dome shaped room, differs from a regular cinema in that the film projection spans across all of the walls and ceiling, making you feel that you are part of the action. The sheer scale of the film was nothing less than impressive, and the excellent sound quality added to the atmosphere. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to develop a film that spans an entire dome shaped room in perfect proportions, with a seamless mix of computer generated imagary and real life documentary. I would have to say that this is by far the best and most technically impressive cinematic experience that I have ever encountered.

The film which is narrated by Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear) is a 24 minute documentary that briefly looks at the first era of space exploration, before introducing teams from around the world who are taking part in the Google Lunar X Prize competition. Finally, the film explores how advances in technology and knowledge may shape the future of the moon.

The goal behind the Google Lunar X Prize is to encourage private teams to compete in a race to successfully land a vehicle on the moon, have it travel 500 meters, and send two "moon casts" back to earth. The winner will not only scoop up the $30 million prize, but will be the first people to successfully land a craft on the moon since 1973.

After the planetarium film, we were invited back to the conference room for a Q & A with the film makers and some representatives from X Prize Foundation, who are in charge of running and judging the competition. It is quite apparent that this challenge is a labor of love for the teams, as the $30 million is unlikely to cover the costs. Many of the teams will not make it, but come quarter 3 2015, we should be witnessing the first lunar broadcast in over forty years!

Once the Q & A had concluded, it was time to leave. Ruby really did not want to go home as she was having a such a fun time. I think it is fair to say that we all had a fantastic day out. I would not hesitate to recommend the space centre to anyone.

For a family two adults and two children, entry and parking costs between £28 and £50, depending on the age of the children, which is a little expensive for my liking; the ticket is however is valid for 318 days. For more information, checkout the National Space Centre's website.

Ruby + Lottie Rating:  8/10

Disclaimer: we were kindly invited to attend the blogger event at the expense of the National Space Centre, however all opinions are our own.