family travel - Five out-of-this-world experiences for families

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For families inspired by the recent spate of science-fiction cinema releases and the exploits of the crew of the International Space Station, there are a host of amazing activities and adventures to be had on Planet Earth. Nichola West rounds up the top five out-of-this-world experiences for youngsters with stars in their eyes.



At the Sydney Observatory in Australia the very beginnings of astronomy meet the latest scientific technology. The observatory is home to 19th-century telescopes and computer-controlled solar telescopes. Families can step into a world of interstellar exploration in the 3D space theatre and delve into the universe in the planetarium.



Belgium’s Euro Space Center offers a week-long space camp course for budding young astronauts where you can take part in a mock Space Shuttle mission. Take part in the lift-off, dock with the Space Station, and land safely back on Earth. You can also experience zero gravity and moon walks in the centre’s simulators. Family weekend and day trips are also available.



Germany’s Zeiss-Planetarium Jena is the world’s oldest continuously operating planetarium and has a wide-ranging programme of space-themed activities for families to enjoy, including short films and musical performances. Inside the planetarium, you are whisked away to the further reaches of outer space thanks to the state-of-the-art panoramic laser projections.



Get up close with the space shuttle and the largest rocket ever flown at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. Budding space explorers can meet real-life astronauts, touch moon rocks, and step into a shuttle launch experience simulator.



Some of the world’s darkest skies can be found in the northeast of England, and the Kielder Observatory sits in the heart of the third largest ‘dark sky reserve’ around the globe. On regular family stargazing nights you can spot planets, star clusters, and galaxies far, far away.

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