Last night I was invited to The Greenwich Royal Observatory and Planetarium to the first listen of new Audible drama Alien: River of Pain starring Anna Friel. It was a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend a visit to The Planetarium itself. I never expected to come away with a new view on the question “do aliens exist?”
First and foremost there’s a bit of a walk up the hill to the site that The Observatory sits on overlooking Greenwich as well as the whole of London giving beautiful sweeping views of the city. If it’s a nice day there’s also the nearby Greenwich Park to visit for a picnic as well as The Cutty Sark. Getting there is easy via the DLR.
Once you’ve had the chance to take in the views there is The Observatory which is home to the famous Prime Meridian which I remember from coming here on a school trip as kid. Quick geography lesson: The Prime Meridian is where the world’s Eastern hemisphere meets The Western at 0 degrees longitude and there is literally a line here where you can stand with one foot in the East and the other in the West.
Inside the observatory is the Planetarium – a large circular dome like room that goes pitch black and then projections are able to emulate the night sky – as it would have been when the Observatory was originally built.
The Astronomer guiding us was then able to move around the sky showing various constellations, planets and stars and brief lesson in astronomy which was impressive and interesting. This concentrated around the planet Acheron where the book is set and we got to listen to an extract of the audiobook which was great, a really immersive audio drama, more details of which can be found on the Audible website here.
The most interesting take-away was the astronomers view on the question “do Aliens exist?” He explained that it all boils down to balances of probability. There are billions, if not trillions of galaxy’s just like ours each container numerous planets. That’s clearly a huge number. It is unlikely that out of all of those planets that there isn’t a single other one that has been able to sustain a life force. They may not look like the aliens you see in the movies, or like us, but they are probably out there.
The Planetarium doesn’t just open for it events it runs shows that tickets can be bought for as well and there is more information on that here. The images of the planets in this post were pictures I took inside the Planetarium itself.