The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure’s “Creativity Month” is an annual celebration which takes place each March. It inspires creative and collaboration amongst many industries from theatre to astronomy! Throughout the month of March there are exciting events and workshops aimed at stimulating new thinking to help artistic people, creative ideas and innovative businesses to emerge and flourish. The Planetarium has once again jumped onboard with this great celebration with a unique and magical show called “Planet Aliens”.
In March 2013 the Planetarium, working in conjunction with D-Signs and Displays, staged “The Dragons of Azrael”. Based in Coalisland, the company is unique, creative and forward thinking. They design and manufacture a wide range of visual displays for the sign, display, exhibition, theatre and film industries. What we managed to create was a wonderful show which invited children to use their imaginations to travel to Azrael, a world full of dragons. The show was a major success, and eventually went on tour around the country.
This year, we had a lot to live up to, but months of script writing, ideas and concepts led us to “Planet Aliens”. The aim this year was to bring the Planetarium and space-related themes to a younger audience thus we set our target audience between nursery aged to around seven years old.
When I walked into our Copernicus hall on the Monday morning, it looked like I had been transported onto a Doctor Who set with a flashing time-machine, a huge projector filled with wondering images of the Orion Nebula and our Planet Alien set! Not to forget about the huge telescope that belongs to the professor!
Professor Pinklepot is the main character, and he greets us in his observatory. He is surprised to see so many children in his observatory but delighted that he will be able to take them on an adventure into outer space. He shows us where we are going when we glimpse through his wonderful telescope. Then with a click of a button on the time-machine off we go across space and time.
When we land on Planet Alien we notice that the planet has very vibrant colours but there is no sign of life. Well, that is until a friendly red coloured alien emerges called Betelgeuse. We learn that it is her birthday and she introduces us to her friend Mintaka who is a green alien and the astronomer on Planet Alien. Mintaka and Professor Pinklepot then point out some of the animal constellations in the night sky for us to find using laser pointers. The constellations that the children learn about are Leo the Lion, Canis Major the great dog, Ursa Major the great bear and Cetus the whale.
A sing-song concludes our visit to Planet Alien and the time-machine begins to start up again. We make our way back to Planet Earth and Professor Pinklepot thanks us for coming on this massive journey with him. The images used during the fly through space are stunning and we get a real sense of moving through the Cosmos.
This show is perfect for introducing young children to the stars and constellations. The aliens are very friendly and many children loved getting a cuddle from them and a photo to remind them of their visit to see the aliens. The response from children and parents was great when we ran the show on Saturday. We were booked out of every showing of Planet Aliens; in fact the demand was so great that we had to squeeze in an extra performance!
We hope to have another visit from the Aliens again soon, so please keep checking our website www.armaghplanet.com/events for upcoming dates and times!
(Article by Sinead Mackle, Senior Education Support Officer)