Gallery of the day: Earth in Space

August 2, 2011


We’ve spent three days doing pretty much nothing but play in the children’s Imagine gallery, so now it’s time to work our way systematically round all the other new galleries at the National Museum of Scotland. With 16 galleries in total and just under three weeks left before we head overseas, if we take one gallery a day and allow ourselves some breaks we should just about make it (when I say we, the boy probably doesn’t really care that much and would rather we just went straight back to Imagine^^)

So, starting on the ground floor, today’s gallery is: Earth in Space

“What is out there? Where do we fit into the Universe? People have always been fascinated by what lies beyond our planet. Technology helps us to investigate these big questions. Scientists use evidence from Earth and space to understand more about the Universe and the origins of life?” (gallery intro panel)

I tweeted on the preview opening reception that the Earth in Space gallery looks very sparkly. This is due not only to the sparkly rocks and minerals on display, but also the star constellations adorning the walls that are lit with tiny lights. But star gazing, with its globes, astrolabes, planispheres and telescopes is only one of the sub sections of the gallery. Others include navigational instruments and measuring time, as well as a look at matter, DNA, and how life began. Some of the scientific instruments are both fascinating and beautiful in their intricacy, and if you thought that geological specimens are boring you should add your nose print to the case of assorted rocks, fossils, minerals and meteorites and let yourself be convinced otherwise. Some of the larger specimens are also on open display with the invitation to touch them.

Click on the thumbnails to view the images at full size.

Highlight objects*:

  • The beautiful orrery from the early 20th century showing the eight planets from Mercury to Neptune.
  • The enormous Schmidt telescope, previously housed at the Edinburgh Royal Observatory, which weighs a whopping 3.2 tonnes!

Things to do:

  • Watch the 6 minute ‘Universe Odyssey’ film about the origins of the Universe to the beginnings of life on Earth.
  • Touch an Ice Age meteorite (and other rocks and minerals too).
  • Explore some images from outer space on of the computer interactives, from 17th century drawings to 21st century space photography.


*Please note that these are my own personal highlights and not necessarily recommended as such by the museum.


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