October 2013: After Hours - A Space Odyssey

Posted by Chris Lee (chrislee) on Oct 16 2013
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The following is a blog of the event written by University of Bristol Science Students and featured in their magazine "Synapse". It gives an excellent summary of the whole event, including BAS involvement.

Ever wanted to play on all the exciting exhibits at the At-Bristol science centre, but felt too embarrassed as they are surrounded by children? Ever wanted to stargaze on the roof overlooking Millenium Square? Ever wanted to drink alcohol whilst at a museum? Well, adult-only nights at the At-Bristol are the perfect excuse.

I was lucky enough to attend ‘A Space Odyssey’, the adult-only night that enabled you to adventure into the depths of the sky and discover how we explore them. The night was from 6:30 to 10:00pm, however, this was not enough time to explore the whole venue and experience everything they had to offer. An insightful talk was given, in which experiments were conducted to show how satellites work. A personal favourite was when a spring was placed in hot water and immediately straightened. This phenomenon was applied to a model of a satellite, enabling it to open its wings via a current being passed through the wire, heating it up and straightening it. The welcoming Bristol Astronomical Society exhibited their telescopes, allowing us to observe stars in the sky. It was fascinating to see how a tiny spec in the sky was actually 2 stars, one orange and one blue. We had the chance to explore a recreated Martian landscape and analyse rock samples which was incredible.

At-Bristol has hundreds of interactive exhibits including: a giant hamster wheel, a walk in tornado, various water activities, exhibits to learn about the human body and many more. They were great fun to play with and helped to develop my scientific curiosity. We aimed to play with as many interactive exhibits as possible; my favourite was ‘startle’. This involved air suddenly spraying into your face, the reactions were recorded and played back in hilarious slow motion.

One of the latest exhibits, in the Zone, gives information on the science behind being a top athlete. It involves completing 5 challenges where you are set against an opponent. It was enjoyable and exciting, however, the only challenge I won was the final sprint finish!

If you have seen the strange silver ball in Millennium Square, you may or may not know it is in fact a planetarium. You can take my word that it is much larger inside than it appears outside (Bristol’s Tardis) with a majestic screen spreading over the top of the sphere. We were transported from a view of the sky affected by light pollution to an astonishing view of the sky from a nearby countryside area. Just by listening to the audience’s ‘ooo’ and ‘ahh’ it was clear that everyone found the view spectacular. The autumn constellations were shown and a fantastic Astronomer, Lee, described the constellations and their associated Greek myths. This experience was breath-taking and is something I would highly recommend. I even recognised some constellation patterns and can now show off as I know the names and stories.

The adult-only nights are great fun and enable you to experience the thrills of science through interactive exhibits, talks and demonstrations. The next adult only night is on Monday 9th December so keep an eye out for it

Last changed: Oct 16 2013 at 9:58 PM

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