It was the first night of the South Downs National Park’s Dark Skies Festival on Saturday (February 11th) and children from our school got the chance to handle rocks from Mars and the Moon, and take part in their first lesson in astronomy. They were taking part in the Dark Skies event organised by Rogate School Family and Friends Association (RSFF) for our pupils as well as children from other local schools who joined us at the school.
Children and parents got up close and personal with a 1.2 billion year old piece of Mars, and a 4.3 billion year old nickel meteorite, as well as lunar samples collected in the early 1970s during NASA’s missions 15,16 and 17 – all lent out for free by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Volunteers from the Hampshire Astronomical Group brought their telescope for the children to observe stars and planets and the RSFF also held a raffle where the first prize was a book signed by Buzz Aldrin.
And it ended with a final surprise – a good luck video message to everyone from British astronaut Major Tim Peake, who grew up and went to school in Chichester.