Festival of the Planets brings European Planetary Science Congress wonder to London

By Ben Miller | 09 September 2013

Festival preview: Festival of the Planets, various venues, London, September 8-13 2013

A photo of a child drawing
Channelling the colours of space as part of the Festival of the Planets© A Heward / EPSC
From the Natural History Museum and the Royal Society to the British Interplanetary Society and the humble Baker Street Irregular Astronomers, the University College London-led Festival of the Planets has brought a diverse group of sky enthusiasts together.

Their timing coincides with the European Planetary Science Congress - the largest meeting in Europe dedicated to planetary science - and their plans accommodate a night devoted to The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Val Guest’s distinctly uncheering 1961 film in which atomic bomb tests by the US and the Soviet Union fudge earth’s orbit and send it heading on a crash course towards the sun. A panel of experts including Dr Who writer Paul Cornell will debate the concept.

Three exhibitions, all of suitably stratospheric scope, are worth seeing: a two-day display brings hands-on robotics, comet-making, science buskers and space explorers to the college’s Quad, while inside the building seven contemporary artists take Planetary Science as their starting point.

10 Miles of Mars, at North Cloisters, packs a recent image of the surface of Mars into a vast, close-up elongation revealing the bizarre textures and colours of the planet, becoming an ethereal glimpse of an alien when viewed from further away.

There are also space-themed cabaret nights at the Bloomsbury Theatre, an observation night in Regent’s Park – subject to the newly-autumnal temperament of the weather, of course – and a range of talks, debates and lectures.

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