January. Such a cruel month. Nowt to do. No money to do it with. Pshaw with you. There’s a big old wonderful show happening up there. Free. Every night (well, except on Tuesdays). That’s the starry, starry sky we’re talking about. And, yep, you guessed it, this city’s not short of wonderful – and, in the main, free (if not dead cheap) ways of getting to know it a little bit better. You wanna know Uranus from your elbow. We suggest you start right here…
1) Republic of the Moon
FACT on form again at the start of the year. This multi disciplinary celebration is – short of NASA finding some lose change down its spacesuits – the closest we’re gonna get to our nearest space neighbour any time soon. Then again, as this awe-inspiring show (pic above) suggests, our single satellite is squarely in the sights of emerging nations too. There’s a whole lot of mineral rights up there. Poets, painters, installation artists and arts catalysts bridge that 250,000 mile gap between us with thrilling interventions, explorations and ruminations. And, apparently, they’ve recreated the smell of the moon too: it’s not a dodgy sarnie from Franklins.
FACT, Wood Street
Until 26 February
The film for which the phrase ‘ahead of its time’ was coined, Kubric’s majestic exploration of inner and outer space was made for the big screen. Especially that trippy descent into Jupiter’s atmosphere. We’re not necessarily saying the greater the screen the greater the illumination. But we are saying this is a rare chance to see a 24 carat classic the way it was always intended. Coming up in this mini season: Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Wall-E.
FACT, Wood Street
10 Jan, Adults £8.50 (members £6.50)
We were gutted when they ran out of money, during the World Museum’s titivation, to bring its doughty old planetarium screaming into the space age with its promised swanky new digital projector. But now, thanks to the lovely Germans, Zeiss Optics has donated said swanky hardware, allowing this cosy cocoon to really blast off and explore the outer reaches of our solar system with full dome digital adventures. The only question remaining is – what have they done to the Liverpool skyline? Does it now contain those hideous Mann Island contours?
World Museum Liverpool, William Brown Street
From 30 Jan. Free.
4) Star Gazing
We might not have the darkest skies in the land, but away from the glare of downtown, there’s still around 1,000 or so stars visible to the naked eye (double that if you live on Hilbe Island. But you have to weigh that up with possible death by quicksand if you put your tripod in the wrong place). Port Sunlight’s Lyceum is hosting the first ever Dark Sky Star Gazing event, with indoor talks and planetarium shows, and experts on hand to help you hitch-hike your way around the galaxy.
Lyceum, Port Sunlight.
17 Jan, Free
5) Exploring Deep Space
Despite its name, the Liverpool Telescope is actually located far, far away. Well, in the Canary Islands. But its fully robotic mechanism means it can be operated from the top of Brownlow Hill. Currently, it’s playing a major role in changing the way we think about galaxy formation theory. And we can catch up on all its science-shifting discoveries online. Or we can just gawp at its stunning collection of images. Schools and colleges can even apply for telescope allocation time.
The Liverpool Telescope,
What do you do with an old, disused ferry terminal? How about making it an award-winning home for a different class of ship altogether? Spaceship rides, hands-on experiments, a planetarium and special exhibitions (currently Wallace and Gromit in Space!) make Merseytravel’s Spaceport one of SevenStreets’ favourite rainy-day excursions, revealing the wonders of the Solar System and the easiest way to walk through a wormhole this side of Stargate.
Seacombe Ferry Terminal, Seacombe
Adult £8, Children £4.50
Our favourite app, hands down. The winter skies in the Northern hemisphere are a thing of beauty. And this interactive astronomy guide lets you point your iPad or iPhone at the heavens, and reveal the constellations, planets, comets and even man-made satellites with its 360 degree touch screen star maps. You don’t even need internet connection. The best £2.99 guide to the universe we can think of.
…And if you want to know what’s happening in the skies this month, or if you feel short-changed with our seventh pick (and still cling to your BlackBerry) don’t forget Jodrell Bank is just 40 minutes away, and well worth a visit. Or check out their excellent website for details of what’s occurring up there. Jupiter, for example, is looking beautiful this month, in the south-east just after dusk.
January, then. My God, it’s full of stars…