Launching rocketsIn support of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's outreach programme, the National Space Academy Regional Project Manager spent the evenings of Wednesday the 9th and Friday the 11th of January launching hundreds of paper "rockets".  Both events were incredibly well attended, with over 2000 people attending the Wednesday event at Newbury Racecourse.  There were plenty of activities for visitors of different ages, and the skies even cleared enough for budding stargazers to view Jupiter and its moons through various telescopes brought by volunteers. 

Activities included planetarium shows in the inflatable indoor planetarium, the chance to look at and handle meteorites and moonrocks, facepainting, and planet painting.  The RAL "Magic Planet" was on hand to display real life satellite data and images of the Earth and other planets, taking on the appearance of each planet through projection onto its blank sphere.

 As for the rocket building and launching, the National Space Academy's Dr Kierann Shah said it was a great experience to work with families and young children and "although there was a bit of competitive spirit, all of the visitors were friendly and gave voice to loud countdowns for all the launches.  My favourite part was hearing the inventive names that the children gave to their rockets."

The feedback from both events was highly positive, and both RAL and the National Space Academy hope that some of the younger visitors were inspired by the activities.  Kierann said "the National Space Academy works with 14-19 year olds, many of whom are already interested in science, so it is brilliant to see younger students being interested and excited about space as well".