Programme of events makes the most of the stars
A PUSH is under way on Tyneside to encourage people to spend more time with the stars.
In October the Centre for Life in Newcastle opened its planetarium.
Now the centre is home to a prestigious exhibition which takes an offbeat approach to astronomy and astronomers.
The display, which marks the end of the International Year of Astronomy, is backed by a new planetarium show, a lecture and a six-week course for the amateur astronomer or the plain curious.
The Explorers of the Universe exhibition, which runs until March, features work by acclaimed photographer Max Alexander portraying people and places of astronomical significance.
One of the studies is of cosmologist Carlos Frenk, Professor of Fundamental Physics at Durham University, who officially opened the £1.5m Newcastle planetarium.
The theatre-style dome incorporates an overhead, suspended 10-metre wide circular-shaped screen, and there are 65 reclining seats. The unlit part of Prof Frenk’s face is 23% of the frame, which represents dark matter, and the rest of the frame is dark energy.
“So it is a representation of what astronomers know about the Universe”, said Mr Alexander.
Other portraits include Patrick Moore, Stephen Hawking , and ex-Queen guitarist Dr Brian May.
Dr Sean Paling from the University of Sheffield was photographed one kilometre underground at Boulby Mine in North Yorkshire to represent his work on dark matter.
Using a single two-minute exposure, the words Dark Matter were spelt out with a torch .
The exhibition includes images of the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton with an apple tree in the foreground and Stonehenge is depicted at sunrise during the Summer Solstice.
Elin Roberts, head of public engagement at the Centre for Life, has a keen personal interest in astronomy and presents a “live” tour of the night sky at the planetarium on the first Saturday of each month.
Earlier this week, a riveting sight in the North East night sky was the sight of a crescent moon with what appeared to be a bright star at the base of the lunar curve.
But, said Elin, the “star” was the planet Jupiter and having such knowledge would enhance people’s enjoyment of the heavens.