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South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre – Science Day Trips for Schools Sussex

Benefits of Educational Visits

We offer the excitement and wonder of a ‘Big Sky Dome’ not just a wide screen display, or temporary structure.

Sitting inside our 11 metre dome you fully experience the dynamics of the heavens making comprehension and learning easy.

It is like being outside on a fabulously clear, warm night filled with sparkling stars and planets.

The effective teaching of astronomy involves viewing the night sky, but to take students “star-gazing” is often impractical for many reasons. A Planetarium brings the night sky to the students. It makes clear many of the basic aspects of astronomy and space science in an exciting and effective way.

An Exciting and Inspiring Place to Visit!

The South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre was established to provide a facility where people of all ages could learn about science in a very visual and exciting way.

Handling meteorites.

Children handling 4 billion year old meteorites.

We focus mainly on learning and are available for school visits. The Presentations complement school studies in work for: National Curriculum Key Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4, GCSE Astronomy, General Studies, including Environmental Science, and Physics at GCSE, AS and A2 level.

We provide a wide range of presentations for schoolchildren which both complements and supplements their National Curriculum work and meets the basic educational needs of a range of ages and abilities.

Since opening in July 2001, the Planetarium has hosted visits by around 10,000 children of school age every year. Through its colourful displays, demonstrations and presentations in the main auditorium, young people are introduced to the awe and wonder of the universe around us and are inspired to want to learn more.

The Planetarium is an educational charity managed and operated by a large team of volunteers and enthusiasts, who have a passion for science and education and believe that learning should be fun! This enthusiasm is clearly infectious because many of our school groups and individual visitors come back to us time and time again.

Tailor-made presentations

These presentations meet the specific needs of university undergraduates, individual colleges and schools, including those from overseas as well as various adult and youth groups.

Specific Requirements

Presentations can also be made to suit specific requirements. For example, for older students, topics such as life on other planets, the birth, life and death of stars, galaxies, the Big Bang and the expanding universe may be covered. Each presentation, given by an experienced lecturer, is of about 50 minutes’ duration, followed by a question and answer session.

How long is a typical visit?

Most school visits last between two and three hours. A typical visit will include a show in the main auditorium followed by questions afterwards, plus a number of additional activities, which will be tailored to the requirements of the individual school, and the total time available for the visit. All shows have a live presenter, enabling plenty of interaction with the children.

Further Activities

The Solar Trail

Our “Solar Trail “, runs along the 200 yards of approach road leading from the school roundabout in front of the Sixth Form Centre down to the Planetarium.

The Solar Trail provides much needed lighting along the approach road utilizing ‘full cut-off design’ ensuring that there is minimal light pollution.

Displayed on the lamp-posts at regular intervals are interesting facts about each of the planets in the Solar System.

From the new Sports Centre, (named after Major Tim Peake, British astronaut), the trail starts with the dwarf planet Pluto and then in sequence points representing Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, Mercury and, finally, the Sun.

The Solar Trail has been made possible through the generosity of the following

  • Seagull Trust,
  • Urbis Lighting Ltd,
  • Brian Fieldhouse,
  • Henry Adams and Partners, with technical advice and assistance from Gerry Davis.

The Science Centre

The Science Centre provides a highly adaptable multi-purpose space for use by visiting school groups and as a location for additional exhibits and hands-on activities during courses for adults and children.

A centre for associated sciences

Its role is in exploring and educating not just Astronomy and Astrophysics but also other ‘Earth Sciences’ such as Geophysics Geomorphology and Meteorology.

An extensive Astronomical Library. A Laboratory/Workshop and an Information Technology Centre.

The ‘Richard Bunker Lecture and Video Theatre’ and ‘Science Centre’

The hall provides seating for over 60 people. As well as providing a secure and comfortable location for visitors to leave coats and bags and to eat lunch. It also include: Viewspace an internet-connected computer and large-format HD TV display to show the latest images, movies, animations and news from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA spacecraft observatories.

Planning your School Visit

School visits can be booked with confidence.

South Downs Planetarium complies with all the regulations and guidelines regarding ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ and the New Government Guidance on Health and Safety on educational visits.

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