How to enjoy a space themed year in Cheshire


FUN IN THE DARK AT BLUEDOT'S MAIN STAGE (c) Jody Hartley - Credit: NOT Archant

July sees the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Landings and if you’re wondering exactly what that has to do with Cheshire then read on…

Cheshire…we have a problem. This is a county brimming with scientific credentials and yet it's something we're not exactly known for celebrating. Until now.

A new major initiative, Cheshire: Where Science Meets Nature, will do just that by championing events and attractions throughout the area all summer long.

First stop; Jodrell Bank's bluedot festival (18th-21st July); a four-day spectacular of live music, talks and science shows all in the shadow of the Lovell Telescope, the great white dish that's become an iconic landmark of Cheshire's green countryside.

Back in 1969 Jodrell Bank beat NASA to the first pictures of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. So consider your countdown to a summer of discovery officially on…


One of the big draws of bluedot is the roster of incredible speakers whose talks won't give you shivery flashbacks of secondary school physics …

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1: Britain's first astronaut, Helen Sharman, will also become the first astronaut to appear at bluedot. Hear about her out-of-this-world experience orbiting the Earth on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft at the aptly named talk, First British Astronaut.

2: Neil Armstrong bobbing about on the moon in his A7-L spacesuit - it's the enduring image of the Lunar Landings. Join TV presenter Dallas Campbell as he considers this iconic clobber, aided by a replica of the suit, at A7-L How to Make a Spacesuit.

3: Science historian James Burke was the BBC's chief reporter on the live broadcast of the Apollo 11 landing in 1969. Travel back in time with him to relive that historic moment at Reporting The Apollo Missions.

4: The World Wildlife Foundation spent four years gathering jaw-dropping footage for Our Planet, an epic project about the fragility of the Earth narrated, of course, by Sir David Attenborough. Make a date for these must-see screenings, conversations and talks with the foundation's environmental experts.

5: Who knew that leafy little Cheshire has played such a big role in the space race over the past half-century? Uncover this unlikely story with Manchester University's Professor of Astrophysics, Tim O'Brien, at Jodrell Bank and the Race to the Moon.



Not just about nocturnal fun, bluedot offers a heap of daytime, kid-friendly sessions (that adults will probably want in on too).

1: Be your own science experiment at Read Your DNA Live!. Get swabbed by scientists from the University of Salford at their mobile lab and find out what their cutting-edge technology has to say about your DNA.

2: Lightsabres at the ready, it's time to perfect the art of being a Jedi. Hone your saber-wielding skills by learning a routine from Star Wars at the festival's Lightsaber Training sessions.

3: Learn the tricks of the animation trade from the professionals at Aardman Animations at the Wallace & Gromit Modelling Workshops. You'll be crafting your favourite characters from clay. Make ours Shaun the Sheep.

4: How do you balance a chair on your chin? Why don't fire-eaters get burnt? Get the answers to these and more from two scientists turned circus performers at Strongwomen Science.



Pay homage to the satellite-in-the-sky all the way into autumn.

1: Watch 'The Hare and The Moon', one of the madcap theatrical adventures at the annual riotous rumpus for youngsters, the Just So Festival at Rode Hall near Congleton, 16-18th August. The Fabularium's new production promises spectacular costumes, puppets, and illuminations.

2: There's double lunar fun in Warrington. First, the 'Space Odyssey' exhibition, at the Museum & Art Gallery until 21 September, will reveal the town's surprising role in all the European space missions due to the work of ESF Technologies. Astronomy geeks can inspect space hardware...

3: ...And then artist Luke Jerram will bring his 'Museum of the Moon', fusing lunar imagery, moonlight and a surround-sound composition, to the town's Parr Hall on its global tour for the Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival, 4-14 October.



If you prefer to cultivate a more visceral connection to space then how better than a summer's night spent staring up to a starry sky?

1: For a double helping of stars - both the burning-balls-of-gas and the movie kind - head to Moonlight Flicks, at Chester's Roman Gardens, 5 July-26th August, which will include Stanley Kubrick's cult classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey in its wider programme.

2: Meanwhile, The Luna Cinema at Tatton Park, 23-25th August, offers the choice of A Star Is Born, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Bohemian Rhapsody. Curtain's up as night falls.



Cheshire makes its debut on the Unesco World Heritage list. The United Nations agency has announced that Jodrell Bank is to be a World Heritage Site alongside the likes of the Taj Mahal and Statue of Liberty. The observatory was chosen as the UK candidate for World Heritage status in late 2017 in recognition of its international, historic and scientific significance.

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