Thursday, 30 May 2013

A Visit to The National Space Centre, Leicester

So today was the day that we decided to venture out a bit further from home. W has been doing about space at school, so I thought a visit to the National Space Centre would be good.

It took just over an hour to get there. I dutifully ignored the satnav and followed the brown rocket signs around the ring road, as advised on the website. Satnav was adamant that we should go throught the city centre. I rather wish we had, as it was a lot quicker going home this route! Thankfully the carpark is only a short walk from the entrance to the Space Centre, but you do have to pay £2 to park.

The National Space Centre, Leicester

I would definitely advise booking tickets online in advance. When we got there, we didn't have to queue at all, as we could just go straight to the pre-booked ticket collection desk to get our tickets. Booking online also means that you can choose which showing of the planetarium show you want to see, rather than getting given whatever is left when you get there. It worked perfectly for us, as we had a little look around when we got there before going in for our showing, and then had lunch when we came out, so no hanging around waiting for a late show. It was £13 for an adult and under-5s were free, so both my boys went in for free (W is 5 and a bit, but shhhh don't tell anyone!)

Once in, you needed to keep your tickets handy, as there are lots of interactive exhibits that you can scan your ticket on and it then stored information on your ticket. For example, in the Tranquility Base section, you could untertake lots of different astronaut training activities such as moonwalk practise. At the end, you scanned your ticket and it brought up all the tasks you had completed and then produced a crew card and postcard of your moonwalk that you could have emailed to you to print at home. Great fun!

The ground level had all the usual space stuff - info on being an astronaut, all about the planets, stars, black holes, space exploration etc. There was also an area with people giving talks at various times during the day. For half term, the topic was Women in Science. We listened to a bit about the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova, if you're interested), and a bit of the Horrible History of Women in Science. Both were very interesting and well presented, but my two are a little too young and got bored after a few minutes. Throughout the ground level are various dressing-up points aimed at the under-5s, where they can dress up as an astronaut, a star, an alien or a scientist. My two loved it! There were also lots of those things you stand behind and put your face through a hole to have a photo taken, which was also a bit hit with my two!

Pondering Quantum-physics?

My two little astronauts

Upstairs is all about rockets. They have a Thor missile on display, which is very impressive. You can take a glass lift up alongside it to various viewing platforms, to get a better look and learn more about rockets, missiles and the space race. We did this just before we left, and the queue for the lift was not bad at all.

Thor Missile

There is a large self-service cafe serving soup and a large range of sandwiches and baguettes, cakes, crisps etc. I'd brought a packed lunch each for the boys, but got myself a sandwich from the cafe. I was impressed with how much seating they had for the cafe and how clean and well-serviced it was. In fact, the whole centre was very clean and well-staffed. The boys particularly liked the toilets, which were space themed, with automatic washbasins built into the walls which automatically squirted soap, water and hot air!

The planetarium show was called "We Are Aliens" and was all about the possiblity of there being life on other planets. It was a great show, but I would have liked a more traditional planetarium experience of the planets and stars. There was a later showing like that, but the queues were enormous, as it was not bookable in advance.

Considering it is halfterm, I was amazed at how quiet it was. I was expecting the place to be packed and huge queues for all the interactive exhibits, but it wasn't, which was great! I did notice that there were far more little boys there than little girls. I guess space is something that must appeal more to boys than girls!

All in all, a very enjoyable day out. G wants to go back again, and said we can go for my birthday next week. When I said I didn't want to do that for my birthday, he had a huge tantrum! So I have promised we can go back for his birthday next year! There was the usual whining and fighting over whose turn it was to press buttons/have their photo taken/look through a telescope/whose feet were hurting most/whose legs were aching etc* (*delete as appropriate) which always drives me potty, but that seems to be par for the course on days out!

DISCLAIMER - This is NOT a sponsored post

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