As part of the International Year of Astronomy, 2009, the Eddington Society and Stuart Atkinson are running an exhibition of stunning astronomical pictures, meteorites and playpits at Kendal Museum. In the same room at the same time, Kendal College and the Royal Society are running an exhibition on Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, after whom the Eddington Society is named, a famous astronomer and astrophysicist born in the town of Kendal as part of the Local Heroes initiative. Together the exhibition is known as Our Amazing Universe.
From the moment the visitor steps through the door, they are assailed on all sides by the grandeur of the night sky. The Orion nebula, both as it would be seen in clear, dark skies and closer up, greets and takes the eye of the visitor. It is the first part of a whole host of images that cover galaxies, planets and amateur observing. A laptop cycles through the images and projects them onto the far wall.
Three full height glass cabinets dot the room. Two of them contain artifacts – one with the medals of Eddington, donated to the town, and one with a couple of his books. The third is plastered with three dimensional images of the surface of Mars. A couple of 3D glasses help the viewer almost literally get into them.
A fourth glass case, this time lower than the rest, contains actual pieces of extraterrestrial surfaces, this time in the form of meteorites, rocks that have come down from space and been recovered.
There are two sandpits children can leave their parents playing in whilst they peruse the exhibits. The first has a rock that can be dropped to try and simulate a crater. The second has lego, which can be used to create a Mars rover that can then trap itself in the sand, just like a real one…
The centre of the room is taken up by six panels, lined up in two back to back rows of three. These contain the life and work of Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington and will be going on a little trip of their own following the exhibition, with loans to schools and other education centres.
There is also a Sun and planets table and an information desk with further info about the exhibits and the Eddington Society itself. The exhibition, along with the rest of the Museum, is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12pm – 5pm. The Eddington Astronomical Society meets at the same venue on the first Monday of every month. My full set of images from today’s visit can be seen here.