The Outer Space is an expanse that piques the curiosity of mankind. Since the 1950s, humanity attempted its interaction with outer space. We have continued to do so in an attempt to salvage knowledge about the mysterious and vast universe we live in. While we successfully achieved space travel, it is not attainable for all. Mankind’s fascination with space exploration is an ever-blossoming desire that refuses to be curbed. We have listed some amazing space-related activities and destinations that every space lover can opt for to fulfil their unattended desires of knowing further about space!
BEST THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE AN ASTROPHILE
Even those unable to participate in space exploration actively, hold some tender sentiment regarding outer space and its functions. The mighty expanding universe is a beautiful realm that one finds mysteriously comforting. Those disengaged with the professional fields of space and astronomy cherish their telescopes and visits to research stations or space-related destinations to bring them closer to what they love so ardently.
See the Aurora Borealis
June to September is an ideal time to make a trip to the Northern Hemisphere. Locations like Canada, Iceland and Alaska can give every space lover a celestial experience without even leaving the earth. Checking out pictures of the Aurora Borealis is quite mesmerizing in itself and the disbelief of its existence is also quite natural. However, that very fact is proof of the fascinating nature of the universe and the planets in it.
The Auroras are northern or southern lights that leave the sky in a green trailblaze. Moreover, they’re created as a result of a disturbance in the magnetosphere caused by the solar wind. Ever wanted to witness a light and sound show? Well, here’s nature’s light show without the sound but a thousand times better. The experience of witnessing the Aurora Borealis is one that you’ll never be able to forget.
Go to Space Camp
There are several space camps held in India either in collaboration with NASA or a program indigenously created for the benefit of spreading knowledge about space exploration. Nevertheless, the ultimate space camp to attend is at Huntsville, Alabama. This program connects the disconnected experiences of the astronauts to those who have never experienced space travel. Furthermore, it guides kids and adults alike regarding the physical and mental challenges faced by the astronauts, spaceflight engineers and scientists.
The tasks and activities are divided depending on the age and program selected. Some people may find themselves launching rockets and working in simulated space missions. Moreover, space lovers can train in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer (simulation of a weightless environment), the Multiaxis Trainer (simulation of the experience of flying to space) and the one-sixth gravity chair (simulation of moon’s gravity). It is a one in a lifetime experience for space lovers to truly understand what it means to be in space.
Check out a Space Shuttle
For decades, NASA carried mankind’s progression in space until the program retired in 2011. Some of the space shuttles involved in these great feats are now put on display for the public. It is so in the honour of its successful functioning and the work put in by the engineers and scientists. These four space shuttles put to rest are located in New York City, Virginia, Florida and Los Angeles.
A trip to New York City will introduce a space lover to the first space shuttle created by NASA, Enterprise. Further on, Despite not actually going to space, this space shuttle remains integral in the history of mankind’s venture into space. Created merely for drop tests and glide test, the shuttle now finally rests on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The museum itself is built on the retired aircraft carrier, Intrepid. Intrepid has worked as a recovery vessel for NASA in the 1960s.
Moreover, we also recommend a visit to the Hayden Planetarium nearby for a full-blown space-related experience.
Witness a Rocket Launch
Keep a checkout for ISRO’s launch activities if you ever wish to witness a rocket launch in your lifetime. ISRO is a testament to India’s self-reliance in progression and has become a hallmark of our country’s pride. In 2019, ISRO finally opened its door to people who wish to catch space activities such as rocket launches near the pad! India offers this opportunity just a 100 km north of Chennai at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, which is an island of Andhra Pradesh.
Built like a stadium, the arena offers seats to at least 5,000 space lovers to witness India’s space activities for free. Further on, this abides by the guidelines followed by NASA who offer the same in the US. They have built the gallery facing two launchpads and provides a clear line of sight of the rocket and its launch from earth. One must register themselves on the ISRO website and sign agreements regarding liabilities beforehand.
Visit the ISRO’s Space Museum
Indians’ interest in space has been ever-growing especially since the advancements of ISRO in space activities. This interest was perfectly met with the establishment of India’s first Space Science Museum in Hyderabad. Located in Naubat Pahad, the inception of the Museum was a collaborative effort between ISRO and the BM Birla Science Centre. The ISRO had provided various models of space shuttles to instil an understanding of space activities conducted in India to space lovers.
A visit to this museum will lead you to the exhibits of the Indian launched shuttles such as the GSLV Mark III, GSLV Mark II and PSLV, Chandrayaan-1, Mars Orbiter spacecraft, APPLE, Aryabhata, Bhaskara, Rohini RS-1 and a model of the International Space Station (ISS). Moreover, the Museum harbours fascinating exhibits that nudge young minds to explore Space Science and Technology. Another exciting feature of the museum is that visitors can get in touch with India’s Antarctic Space Station (Dakshin Gangotri) in real-time!
Do Stargazing with Your Partner
Now for space lovers, the most simplest pleasures rest on stargazing. One of the best experiences of life is to lie on a hilltop and gaze at the beautifully dotted night sky along with loved ones. There are several places in India that serve as an amazing spot for stargazing such as the Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, Coorg, Neil Island and so forth. However, we suggest the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat as an ideal place to witness the stars in their element!
This is because the Rann of Kutch is a large salt marsh devoid of any large vegetations and provides a plain land where you can see each and every star as far as your vision goes. Furthermore, The beautiful view of the night sky is also complemented by this strange phenomenon called Chir Batti (Ghost Lights) which are the mystic glow of lights reported in Banni grasslands.
Buy a Telescope and look at Planets
Another simple pleasures of growing up as a space lover is witnessing planets through a telescope. While some appear to us even through our naked eye, we must put in the efforts to discover those that remain hidden. The beauty of the planets are enough to capture your heart. For those who have been able to do this, at least once, can attribute the origins of their love for space, to this event.
There are five planets that we can see with our naked eye but the telescope provides us with a better and enhanced view of these planets that escape our gaze. Further on, For a better and focused view of the planets, we suggest you buy ‘slow’ telescope which has a higher focal ratio (8 and above). Some of the other things to keep in mind while gazing at planets in the air quality, aperture size of the telescope and the quality of optics.
Have lunch with an Astronaut
Undeniably, astronauts are heroes for space lovers. If you’ve ever dreamt about meeting one, then the Space Center at Houston goes beyond that to offer a dining experience with them. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Space Center Houston offers visitors lunch with an astronaut. Such opportunities are incredibly rare in the world but the space centre offers to bridge the gap between astronauts and space lovers to fulfil dreams.
Of course, one has to make a reservation in advance because such opportunities are well in demand. But a lunch with an astronaut is the best way to meet your childhood heroes and ask them all the questions about space you’ve ever had. Moreover, a visit to the Space Center Houston can also be accompanied with a tour of its starship gallery and mission briefing centre. There are more than 400 things to see and do here so the trip is definitely worth it.
Marvel at the Dhala Crater
Asteroids and comets have left large craters on earth demolishing everything nearby on impact. These craters continue to exist through the years and have become a point of astonishment for humans, especially space lovers. The scariest yet fascinating part is the deep impact these asteroids have that even the planet has been unable to cover up for millions of years. An aspect that dinosaurs can vouch for.
Moreover, what is even more interesting is that two such craters exist within our country as well. A 1.5-hour drive from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh will lead you to the Dhala Crater in Madhya Pradesh. Unlike the Lonar Crater Lake in Maharashtra, this one isn’t particularly popular. But this is an important crater, nonetheless, for it is considered to be the largest impact crater from the Mediterranean and South-East Asia.
Thus, a sight of the crater is a shocking experience but it also brings the understanding of the universe’s might. There are various meteorite craters around the world that every space lover should visit at least once!
Visit the Mars Simulation at Utah
Ever wondered what it feels like to live on Mars? Or well, just wondered what it looks like? The state of Utah blesses a space lover with the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be on Mars without actually travelling in space. Such opportunities are genuinely rewarding to those who have been unable to take strides along the field of space but have longed for years to do so. The Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah will provide an otherworldly experience altogether.
The research station offers a simulation of what life is like on Mars. However, the centre is only open to the public in June, July, and August and therefore, we advise you to plan your schedule accordingly. In the centre, the visitors are acquainted with the different ways of surviving on Mars. Further on, the research stations even offer opportunities to volunteer there, if you wish to have a longer stay and are qualified enough (the temptation is real).
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