Category: Astronomy

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Gaia – Llanthony 2019 (by )

This weekend starting tomorrow there is going to be a giant Earth floating in the grounds of the historical site Llanthony Secunda Priory and Moon Mania Mega Make my community textiles project will be there with it 🙂

Scout Sewing MoonMania

It will be there from 10 am till 5 pm for three days:

Friday 28th of June Saturday 29th of June Sunday 30th of June

I will be there from 1 pm on the Friday, 2 pm on the Saturday and all day Sunday. If the weathers nice I will be outside by the coffee van if it's bad I'll be inside. This will also be the first proper outing of Moon Memories where I hope to snag people and get them to tell me their tales of the moon landings and space race or what their aspirations for the future of space exploration is. This is for a legacy piece which will result in a book and website and my hope is to archive these stories properly so that they are not lost to the sands of time (or moon dust!).

Gaia is part of Gloucester's amazing Earth and Moon festival which will be going on through out the summer and autumn and includes events at the Libraries including their annual reading challenge which is space themed, cinema at the GuildHall, the accompanying Moon to Gaia will be in the Cathedral later in the Year, and of course last but not least there is the Museum of Gloucester which has a Moon Exhibition which is opening this Saturday (29th of June 2019) starting with a kids craft corner focused on International Asteroid Day. I myself will be doing talks, creative writing that's moon themed as well as rock handling at the Museum.

MoonMania Talks and Rock Handling

Some of the events can be found in the SoMac brochure, some in the museums and libraries and Guildhalls own brochures 🙂

I also have various poetry, arts and science talks planned starting on Tuesday with a little PechaKucha talk at Liquor and Chow.

Moon Mania Creative Writing and Spoken Word

Now back to Gaia - this is an amazing installation that is going on a tour around the UK and is made by Luke Gerram with imagery from NASA. I am very excited to have the chance to be involved for Moon Mania!

Gaia is the name of the Greek Goddess who made/is the Earth, that which gave birth to everything, in Earth and Planetary Sciences we have the Gaia Hypothesis which takes the planet as a kind of mega organism with each part - trees, animals, sea, weather - all being part of the whole and what affects one affects the other. Computer Gamers will also be well aware of these concepts!

I have a mini obsession with Gaia so here is one of my favourite art making and concept creating videos about another fabulous art inspired by Mother Earth:

Rebirth of Gaea

Oh and I am looking for as many people as possible to be involved with the Mega Make!

Moon Mania Mega Make community textiles project

Moon Mania (by )

A thing I bring - Moon Mania

Blood Red Super Moon

A kind of extended festival or series of events to mark the Moon Landings and space exploration, looking at everything from ancient myths and legends through to the mineralogy of moon rocks and the politics that fuelled the Space Race using arts, crafts, engineering, story telling, rocks.... you name it!

Inspired by my dad telling me about the landings and the TV coverage around it where they had a mix and match of anything and everything to do with the moon - so I thought this was the way to go with it.

I have already done three days of Space Craft workshops with kids on a bit of a Moon Tour of the Libraries here in Gloucestershire and there shall definitely be more of that to come!

Having actually worked on meteorites and even a lunar sample at the Natural History Museum London, UCL, Birbeck et al many years ago now, I am excited to try and show people just what is so awesome about our nearest celestial neighbour, what rocks can tell us about our own origins and planetary science as a whole. Then there is the engineering, political and economic angles which are great discussion points (both the good and the bad). Then there is the art and craft aspect - I see art and science and craft and engineering as the same sorts of things they all come under one banner... Creativity and that creativity is something I want to bring to the general public.

Gloucester the city where I live is hosting a series of events including a Giant Moon at the Cathedral and the Museum is having a Moon exhibitions including a series of talks, story telling and rock handling - I am some of this but not all of it and the exhibition they have lined up is awesome including vintage telescopes and a chunk of the moon on loan to them! They have one of THE GREATS of story telling coming in and so much more!

So what actually am I up to with Moon Mania - well first off I have struggled to get funding but due to bookings of workshops and things and kind donations I have managed to get the ball rolling - I will also confess that I am about a year and a half behind schedule so am kind of just doing it all... RIGHT NOW. I am behind due to miscarriages and family deaths which suck but are a part of life and have actually focused for me how important stuff like this is - this isn't just a series of events it is something more, it is paving a future, it is archiving, it is wonder.

And actually I began to feel that the hunt for funding was beginning to cripple the project, stagnating it when there were bits of it I could be moving forward with. So I cobbled together some other monies - my own and kind donations from friends.

But what am I actually doing? The Space Craft stuff is fun and I love taking it out and about at festivals but Moon Mania is something more than that - something with the potential to leave a wonderful legacy and to preserve this momentous moment in the history of human achievement - WE WENT TO ANOTHER PLANET!!!!!

There are several aspects to the project:

Moon Memories

I am collecting peoples reminiscences of the moon landings for a website and later a book including getting them archived properly as I fear we are now loosing these memories for ever - my own dad died earlier this year half way through writing his own memories, for this reason I am all the more determined that it has to happen.

I envision these as cafe events where people can come and sit and talk to me over tea and biscuits - younger people may have stories about how the inspiration from the space race etc… formed some aspect of their lives even if they did not see the actual moon landings - kind of intergenerational awesomeness (or the alternatives).

We are loosing these memories as a culture, as a species, they are slipping from us with death and decay of synapses and just the fog of memory.

Dad's memories will still be including incomplete as they are and I will probably add notes of things he'd said about it all to me.

This part of the project was initially a minor part of something else several of us were working on with the Gloucestershire Archives and Heritage Hub but has become a large thing in and of itself. I am going doing some training on how to record interviews and archive them properly and am very excited about how helpful the hub has been with research etc...

Moon Mania Mega Make

This is a community textiles project and is a series of banners depicting various space related scenes using embroidery, appliqué, rag rigging etc… each banner will be brought a long to various communities/general public groups and gatherings etc… Everyone is welcome to do a bit of even if it is only a couple of stitches. I currently only have enough funds for one banner at the moment but hope to get more. What I would like is to again bring it along and let people have a go at it and in the longer term have places where the finished banners can be put up for exhibitions at the very minimum they will appear in the local community gallery.

I have already gotten a banner printed and ready to go on recycled polyester - I picked this material because it is recycled but is less prone to things like moth which attack natural fibres in the hope of increasing its life span. It is printed to make following what colour needs to go where easier and is a copy of Celestial Montage which was part of a multi media piece I did for the European Space Agencies Spaces project. The original is drawn in fine liner from a series of Hubble and other space images in the ESA archive. I thought the bright colours would make this a good one to start with.

Large Celestial Montage Banner

This part of the project launches this weekend Sat 8th of June 2019 at a Scout Fund raising event in Cranham called Grove Fest (it's in the Grove funnily enough!) and is 4pm until late with live music, open mic, wet and wild play, BBQ and bar. That is Cranham Gloucestershire UK.

Moon Miscellany

A collection of myths, legends, stories, poems and science about the moon - based on the BBC broadcasts around the actual moon landings where they collected together every and anything to do with the moon. A lot of the poets and story tellers are local to Gloucester/shire and so there is scope there for performance. I have some amazing artists and writers involved in this already and even a trainee astronaut (not based in Gloucestshire but Australia but he was once a Stroudy).

The collection is still open to submissions but there is no pay other than royalty share as I have no proper funding (boo hiss), I have been amazed already at artists and writers who have jumped on board knowing this and am so grateful <3

These stories and poems are very much a part of the legacy and need to be preserved and more importantly shared, some folk tales for example are in danger of vanishing for ever and some poets have little moon poems that have never seen the light of day (or the reflection of it from the lunar surface!).

Science essays are wide and varying too, from bouncing radio waves off the surface for amateur radio to the organics round in comets!

Moon Meets

A general interest group that meet up to talk all things space, to make and create - a kind of variant on the Creative Teas that me and Alaric host - unlike most of the stuff this isn't open to the general public as such nor is it a specific event but more a group of us who are planning to meet up regularly. There are about ten of us so far and there will be some over lap with the community textiles stuff but some people need a none public safe space to just be and so that is what I am providing with this part - I am currently waiting to see if I am getting any funding for this part.

Moon Music and The Planet Pageant

This is the newest addition to the project and so is still forming.

Many moons ago... I attended a song writing workshop with Paul Murphy who was wonder and lovely as well as being an extraordinary musician. He really encouraged me and kept in touch right up until he died. He knew I mainly just played and made songs up for the kids at home and made me realise that that was alright and that there was value in that but also that there was the potential for there to be more.

Since then I have met so many lovely musicians and taken part in some improve stuff and now have so many many musical instruments! Sometimes I bring boxes of them out for groups of kids to play with.

Then I made the sound panel and designed the sensory cave with sounds made by actual celestial objects ie planets with magnetospheres sing! This was one of my first complex multimedia pieces and was part of the Please Touch exhibition in Cheltenham and later the Science Art Exhibition but I organised the latter myself!

The lady who asked me to be part of the exhibition is a wonderful children's improve musician and is a real motivator who has shown me that the key is giving permission to kids and grown ups alike to just play with sound!

She has also agreed to be part of the project! AWESOME

I then took part last year in the Spaces Project just as part of a scratch choir but it was wonderful and the musician in charge of that asked me if I wanted to go on a song writing day with a man called Boo which I jumped at (especially as it was free for us song writers types as was Pauls - still not sure how I ended up on them!). Within five minutes of starting this workshop I was writing about the moon.. and then events season hit and I have been out at all sorts of events including making junk music shakers with kids and some how BOOM there is a new part to the project.

I am currently trying to fix and decorate old tambourines and adopting the instrument making to be planet themed and adapting the stuff I did with the sound panel so kids or adults or anyone really can come and play. I even have a lot of coloured ping pong balls and rice grains to make rattly whizzing bouncing planets and moons and asteroids - yep I have black, white, green, red, yellow etc... and have tested how easily it is to paint planet texture onto the balls along with how easy it is to post rice grains into the balls to make them shakers and attach the cord so you have and orbiting pair!

I am making custom planets for the kids to get noises out of and am bringing in some amazing musicians for these workshops.

So that's the music part but what of the pageant part?

To me movement, music and the flow of what you are wearing with that movement adds something, having worked with the idea of dress up, cosplay, choreography, improve acting and parade via various events including the Smash Fest science outreach day and the amazing work the University of Gloucestershires drama students performed, the Stroud Drama Festival, the Aethelflead stuff last year not to mention my current work on Carnival.

The upshot of this is the idea of making costumes themed on space and planets and adding movement and dance to the mix. Having an eight year old who is obsessed with dance has also some what formed this concept.

This is something that can be as simple or as complex as people want and it will be beautiful.

Things I Need for Realisation

More musicians and dancers/choreographers aboard Broken instruments to fix up Electronic supplies - Cheltenham Hackspace is already helping me out with some of this. Spaces and groups to work with potentially over a period for costumes if wanted. Funding pots to apply for as currently I will have to charge for this to cover costs, expenses etc...

Space and Aviation Science puppets

I already have puppets which come out for story telling and science craft workshops, comedy etc… and though I do have two that work for space themed things Einstein (physicist) and Brahmagupta (ancient Indian astronomer and mathematician who’s work our whole mathematics system is based on), I would like to make two more these being Caroline Hershel (Astronomer who’s legacy is possibly greater than her brother’s and who had to fight for ever ounce of recognition but ended up being head of the Royal Astronomy Society!) and Amelia Earhart who was an aviation visionary and would be an important figure in helping me explain the aerodynamics and flight mechanics that were involved with the space race and flight in general.

Issue here is that I don’t have enough funds for the textiles to make them and comes back down to funding but hope that as the project progresses this will remedy itself.

Moon Mania Money

Which brings me to the bits I am charging for to help provide the rest but are fun valid things in and of themselves and includes actual space rock and moon!

Rock Handling

I have meteorites ranging from Chondrites to iron, including a tiny slither of the Moon and Mars as well as some space ship specs from various missions as well as terrestrial analogues (rocks from Earth that are similar to meteorites and can tell us a lot about how they formed). I also have a 200 yr old ships telescope to show people to talk about astronomy.

One of the bits of ship I have is minute but it has been to the far side of the moon! And I have a an inclusion in one of the meteorites that contains pre solar grains which is pretty amazing and special.

Big thank you has to go to Dr Rebbecca Wilson for helping me with this.

This can also be part of a larger workshop looking at how we find meteorites, analyse them and the nature of impacts, the biggest version of which contains a sit in sand pit!

Wants

I would love a microscope with cross polars and that can do reflected ligh as transmitted plus the cross sections (slides) to go in it of various minerals.

Space Craft

Kids sci-craft workshops including stomp rockets, junk modelling and puppets, this has already been going out in the Libraries and can be a whole event with six or more activities or just a single craft activity, there is a huge list of craft projects including some new ones. A typical workshop contains 6 different activities and lasts for a couple of hours. It is £250-£400 depending on exactly which crafts are picked and can include rock handling.

I am also offering smaller one off activities:

Stomp Rockets

Junk Modelling space station design

Star Coaster decorating

Space themed origami

Balloon Rockets

Solar System mobile/hanging charms

Cardboard telescopes

Alien finger and stick puppets with cosmic and star back drops

Astronaut window clings and general colouring in

Space dress up and toy play

Story Telling and Puppets

Making planet shakers - also part of Moon Music

Model solar system

Cardboard Hubble Telescopes

Giant card rocket - for colouring in

Messy stuff:

Mini Moon Lamps - papier mache messy

Paper Plate spin planets - paint

Paper mâché solar system - Large

Paper mâché rocket - Large

If an outside space is available then we also have:

Coke and mento/vingar and baking soda rockets

Impact craters - involves mud and sand

Clay Alien modelling

Tea bag hot air balloons

Water rockets

Still under development/need more money to make

laser cut model rockets for the children to construct

Sit in play rocket

Talks

These can including rock handing - I used to work on lunar samples and impact rocks at the Natural History Museum in London and currently will be doing talks in the Museum of Gloucester as well as going over to the Wilson in Cheltenham, I also have other speakers that I can bring in. And though the Apollo missions were an amazing achievement for humanity as a whole there are several aspects that are not brilliant such as it coming out of a militaristic state of affairs and the use of NAZI technology, not to mention the fact that we have not been back, and the environmental cost etc… so I am completely happy to run debates on these types of subjects too.

Talks currently available:

My journey to the Moon - about my time at the Natural History Museum and what it’s like to actually work on Lunar samples

The Kreepy Moon - an exploration into the geochemistry and mineral of the lunar surface

Apollo - a whirl wind tour of the moon landings

First Steps - how it nearly all went wrong - the tail of how we almost never went to the moon

NASA Is Not The Only One - how many space agencies are there?

Moon Quakes, and how the Sun Shakes - find out about Earthquakes and their planetary equivalents including what they can tell us

Ice and Fire - how we find the shooting stars that have come to Earth

Meteorites: A History

Craters and Impact Rocks

So What Now?

Well realistically I can do a lot of this - I have already been booked for about ten activities/talks but to bring this to it's full potential I will need more money - I will attempt to set up some sort of kick starter/sponsume page.

There are a couple of other things I would really love to fit into this but need to design them a bit more and price them up before I announce them.

A schedule needs to be forth coming too! I am starting the Mega Make on Saturday and having my first Moon Meet on Sunday - July is the actual anniversary month so that is when I will be popping out some little Moon Pouches and starting my events proper including talks at the museums etc.. but this is a long reaching project that I plan to match the duration of the Apollo Missions so not just this year though this will be the main/foundation one of course.

I am happy to do all of this stuff outside of Gloucester but once outside of my walking range you will have to pay travel expenses and if far enough away then accommodation as well 🙂

I am very excited and hoping my moon badges arrive before Saturday so that I can give them out to the Cubs, Scouts and Beavers!

Take Me To the Moon (by )

So I am doing a lot of research into the moon landings and stuff for various events this year to mark 50 years since Apollo 11 but with came the shock that somehow until last night I had never given up on my childhood ambitions - top year of infant school we did an assembly and we had to say what we wanted to be when we were older - I had three things I wanted to be:

1) an Opera Singer - my reasoning for this was you get to sing, act, dance, make and wear awesome costumes, write plays and songs and create amazing sets and props (I was 7 and had massive problems with my hearing)

2) Be an archaeologist and palaeontologist - I even took a fossil with me that a teacher informed me wasn't a real fossil as it was just an indentation - I already knew more about fossils than the teacher. (ironically I knew that the two fields of archaeology and palaeontology were distinct but related things but not that opera singers didn't make their own dresses).

3) An Astronaut - I kind of assumed I would at least get to go to the Moon and Mars to look for fossils and that I would then write books on it. I even resisted a diagnosis of asthma because I knew that would exclude you from the space programme.

I have managed pretty much all the first two options to some degree or other though stretching it slightly as I've only ever done Light Opera ie Musical Theatre - though I did get to sing with a proper Opera Singer at the Royal Festival Hall when I was a teenager.

Last night I was awoken with the realisation that I am actually never going to go into space - somehow I had still been holding onto the notion that when I was older I would somehow be fit enough and good enough to go. I was born with a heart murmur so there was actually never any chance of me going even if the space programmes had continued to send people up (though I think they could have done a lot of the moon stuff a lot differently and safer but it would have taken longer). It was that thing where I realised I am the sort of age of those original astronauts, when they were flying to the moon and back.

The closest I ever got to space was the meteorites at the Natural History Museum and then a lunar meteorite at Birkbeck/UCL but I never got to finish that project due to my health so actually worry that me blasting the thing with lasers actually made it less of a useful sample to others who came after me - I still get to say I blasted moon rock with green lasers I suppose.

I like collecting sets so am finding my inability to be an astronaut incredibly frustrating!

New Years and Slither Moons (by )

Moon, Birds and Morning Star

It is the 7th of January and not the 1st - this year I specifically didn't push myself to blog, post, reply to emails or even write in my diary. The intensity and exhaustion of Christmas meant that I wanted and needed to spread things out. So that is what we have done.

New Years Day we did our walk to welcome the New Year - something I did not manage last year and that too is ok. It was a dreary dark day but there was fire and lights and beautify in the glome. I have already formulated some of the pictures into a twitter poem. And will hopefully get around to posting all the worthy pics - a lot are blurry due to light levels but are keepers due to the compositions and thoughts had whilst taking them!

For know here are the embedded tweets:

Then I woke on the 2nd to crippling period and a beautiful down of moon slither, morning star (Venues) and birds flying here there and everywhere. I wish it was a better picture but it was a grab and snap before camera battery died with no time for tripods. The image was stark and dynamic, ancient and new and I felt I needed to capture it as a memory.

2018 was an up and down year with AMAZING things like the Aethelflead Festival and being involved with so many festivals and activities - finding out about family history etc... but it was also HORRENDOUS with miscarriage aftermath, another miscarriage, deaths of family members and hospitalisations of others - friends going through hard times and feeling powerless to help - this is the double edged sword of being from a large extended family and having so many wonderful friends. There is much love but also lots of pain - I can't and wouldn't choose not to love or care but sometimes it downs you.

I got to do more acting in 2018 and would like to do more of that in 2019, I also made and created lots of things but didn't complete stuff that should have been completed - not sure if that can be remedied in the coming year - all I can do is try. Already having ideas to try out.

There will be a big push for the publishing and writing side of what I do in the coming year. There are several large projects that have been simmering on back burners that will hopefully get to bloom (mix those metaphors baby!).

But I am not tying the year down to have toos because I can't and it if I try it will just lead to misery. I have put on a lot of weight this last year - I am attempting to shift it - it may take a while it might not be doable but general fitness I can try and sort. I just wish I had more energy in the first place - there is so much I want to do and feel stifled by the restrictions. Jean is helping me - there is apparently an app for everything. Already seen how much my periods affect my strength which was interesting - it was very marked.

Attempting less Facebook but more blogging, twitter, Pinterest etc... I really don't like FB but am tied to it but the fact that many people only interact/contact me via it. I will probably fail at this and end up posting every five mins!

Craft wise there are a lot of projects to finish off, and lots of photos to sort, and picture to draw/scan and music to make (actually practicing some of the instruments I have would be a start).

I will get around to making a proper plan for it all but probably not until my birthday weekend. And talking of birthdays this year is Alaric's 40th so there will have to be something major for that - I am looking forward to theming some sort of get together but he is dallying!

Oh and we have a new kitten - Potassium - she needed rehoming after the council did their Tennent checks and arrived on Christmas Eve much to the children's delight especially Mary who had quiet literally been praying for a kitten!

I will try and submit more work this year and look forward to growing more things at the allotment - issue currently being that the mild weather means the beans that should be coming up late Feb decided to germinate - not sure they will survive but have so far.

So I am heading off into this new year with some trepidation but a good scoop of hope too.

Slither Moon and Morning Star

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