5 out-of-this-world ways to celebrate World Space Week

If you’re fascinated by space, World Space Week is the perfect time to indulge your interest and learn more about the universe.

Between 4 and 10 October, participants in more than 90 countries will celebrate World Space Week with over 11,000 events. This year’s theme, entrepreneurship, looks at how the private sector is pushing the frontiers of space technology and what’s possible.

The UN General Assembly established World Space Week in 1999, and it selected the dates to commemorate two important events:

  • 4 October 1957: The launch of the first human-made Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, which opened the way for space exploration.
  • 10 October 1967: The signing of the Outer Space Treaty, which forms the basis of international space law.

If you or someone in your family loves learning about space, here are some out-of-this-world ideas that could help satisfy curiosity.

1. Visit the National Space Centre

If you want to learn more about space and see some fantastic exhibits, the National Space Centre in Leicester is the perfect place to head.

At the award-winning museum, you can step into the UK’s largest planetarium or board a 3D flight simulator. There are lots of hands-on galleries to explore and a 42-metre rocket tower – you can even see a chunk of the moon.

As well as the National Space Centre, plenty of science museums boast exhibits about space too.

The Science Museum in London includes two space rockets suspended from the ceiling. The module that carried astronauts, including Tim Peake, back from the International Space Station in 2016 is also on display.

Winchester Science Museum and Planetarium is perfect if you’re planning a day out with children, as it has lots of immersive areas and presenter-led shows. Glasgow Science Centre also has fantastic live shows led by astronomers and other experts, along with exhibits.

2. Put on an intergalactic movie

Space has been inspiring filmmakers for decades. So, you’ll have plenty of options for a themed movie night.

Ridley Scott’s The Martian is an excellent story about an astronaut stranded on Mars, and, while fictional, has been praised for its realism and portrayal of science.

Classic Apollo 13 was released almost 30 years ago but the documentary-drama, which was nominated for nine Oscars, is still a great depiction of space. Director Ron Howard focused on making a technically accurate film and even used NASA to provide the cast with astronaut training. Or if you want to explore mind-bending theoretical deep space physics, Interstellar could be perfect.

If you want a family-friendly film, Lightyear, Fly Me to the Moon, and Mars Needs Mums are among the great options that could spark a lifelong fascination with space.

3. Take an evening trip to one of the International Dark Sky Places

International Dark Sky Places are areas where you can get away from bright lights, and the UK has some of the largest areas in Europe.

On a clear night, under a dark sky, you could see thousands of stars, major constellations and the Milky Way stretching across the sky. If you’re lucky, you could even see shooting stars. So, an evening trip could give you a fantastic view of space.

The national parks offer great places to head to in the evening, with some boasting dark sky reserves, including Snowdonia National Park and Exmoor National Park, which will host a dark skies festival just after World Space Week between 13 and 29 October.

4. Check out NASA Live

NASA Live gives you a chance to see space exploration as it happens. From coverage of spacecraft docking with the International Space Station to launches, there’s plenty to keep you interested.

Live events are often accompanied by news conferences or remarks, so there’s a chance to hear from experts too.

The list of upcoming events is regularly updated and may change, so you should keep an eye on the schedule.

5. Pick up a book penned by an astronaut

Around 630 people have gone into space, and a few have written about their fascinating experiences. Picking up a book written by an astronaut could give you an insight into what it takes to visit space and the wonders of doing so.

Scott Kelly has been part of four space missions and spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station. In Endurance, he describes the challenges of long-term spaceflight, the risks of travelling in space, and the difficulties of returning home.

Other books penned by astronauts to add to your reading list include:

  • Flying to the Moon by Michael Collins
  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
  • Limitless by Tim Peake.