Planet Pavilion

FCB Jodrell Bank 3

This is where the day of discovery begins for all our visitors and where our staff will offer you a warm welcome and provide information about your day.

Start your visit by exploring our place in the universe in our first gallery. Its centrepiece is our astounding clockwork Orrery – a working scale model of our own solar system – the largest of its kind in the World. If you’re  lucky you will be able to turn the handle that makes the planets orbit the Sun overhead.

Planet Pavilion_Orrery

Discover our own solar system, the scale of the Milky Way and the extent of the universe using our interactive screens and games. On these you will find fascinating facts and figures, videos of the latest space missions to explore our solar system and its planets.

We have even included some of the scientific and engineering theory that gets our spaceships into space and our scientific information back to Earth.

Check out some of our maths derivations videos below:

1. Distance to the Moon

How do we work out the distance between the Earth and the Moon? See how to do it in this clip:

2. Other Planets

When it comes to working out the distance between our own star, the Sun, and other Planets, we use Kepler’s laws. Johannes Kepler was a 17th Century Mathematician and Astronomer – his work is still very useful today.

3.‘Standard candles’

This idea might sound as if it’s part of a comedy show (please don’t mention fork ‘andles) – but in fact, the brightness of nearby stars can give us information about their distance from us.

See the link between brightness and the ‘Inverse Square Law’ here :

Maths notation tip: the three dots () are used as shorthand for ‘therefore’ and the µ symbol is used to mean ‘is proportional to’…

4. Cepheid Variables

This type of star was discovered by Henrietta Levitt in 1908. Cepheid variables behave in a predictable way, which makes them very useful for measuring the distance to other galaxies.

5. The Edge of the Observable Universe

And if you want to consider some very large scale distances – what about the distance to the edge of the Observable Universe?