Space Lates – Planetary Science

22 July 2022

An evening for those interested in astronomy, space missions, and the exciting research happening locally, globally and out in space.

For this Space Lates, we’re heading to the planets, with our guests talking about past, current and future missions to some of our closest neighbours in the Solar System, and some a “little” further away.

We’ve curated a special evening packed with guest speakers, interactive workshops, planetarium shows, stargazing, and live demos. Explore our galleries after-hours and finish your evening with a live astronomy session with Leicester Astronomical Society (weather permitting).


Guest Talks

Magnificent light shows: the northern lights of the giant planets

Dr Henrik Melin (STFC James Webb Fellow) – University of Leicester

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the most advanced and powerful space telescope ever constructed. Its sensitive instruments can sense stars and galaxies, but it can also explore objects within our cosmic backyard – our solar system. One of the most spectacular targets is the aurora (northern lights) of the giant planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. They are manifestations of how the planet interacts with its surrounding space environment and this talk will explore how JWST will revolutionise our understanding of these polar light shows.

6:15 and 7:15

EnVision: new insights from our nearest planetary neighbour

Dr Philippa J. Mason (Senior Researcher in Planetary Remote Sensing) – Imperial College London

Venus exploration offers unique opportunities to answer fundamental questions about the evolution of terrestrial planets and habitability within our own solar system. Venus is Earth’s closest sibling, geologically; similar in size to the Earth, it has remained active into the present era. EnVision is a Venus orbiter mission that aims to reveal the nature and current state of Venus’ geological evolution and its relationship with the atmosphere, to understand how and why Venus and Earth evolved so differently.

7:15 and 8:15

Discovering Earth-like Planets in the Celestial Neighbourhood

Dr. Shweta Dalal (STFC Fellow) – University of Exeter

We have discovered thousands of planets orbiting around stars other than our Sun and we call them exoplanets. However, we are yet to detect a planet similar to our Earth. These diverse exoplanets are fossils of planet formation and evolution, which is why detecting and characterising them is crucial. This talk will highlight the Terra Hunting Experiment – the most intensive search ever attempted for Earth-like planets around the nearest Sun-like stars.

6:15 and 8:15


Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium. Credit: Hufton Crow

Head to the UKs largest planetarium to join a member of our Space Communications team for a tour of the night sky and a look at some of the fantastic images that have been taken of our planetary neighbours .

Please select your show time when booking – 18:45 or 19:45


Virtual Reality - Exploration of Exoplanets

Journey across the landscape of planets beyond our solar system in a virtual exoplanet tour created by Exeter Exoplanet Theory Group, alongside We the Curious, and VFX company Engine House. Discover hellish worlds engulfed in vast lava flows and exoplanets with deep oceans fraught with gigantic waves.


Space rocks – mysteries unlocked

Displayed from the Graham Ensor Collection, find out about some of the oldest rocks from space – take a look at the building blocks of our solar system (including the largest Lunar meteorite in the UK) and hold a piece of space history.


Auroral light simulator

Visualise and learn about the cosmic phenomena of the northern lights with the University of Leicester’s Planeterella model – prepare to be captivated.





Join the night sky experts from the Leicester Astronomical Society for a session of star gazing*.

*Weather permitting

Additional Notes & FAQs

All talks and activities are aimed at adults and families interested in science.
Children are welcome; however, parents/guardians need to decide if children are happy to attend accessible and engaging 30-minute talks.

You are free to explore our galleries throughout the night.
Please note that the Rocket Tower and Tetrastar Spaceport will not be open.

Hot food must be pre-ordered when purchasing your ticket.
Our café will be open throughout the evening.

Can I use my Annual Pass for this event?
No, this is an additional evening event that is exempt from the FREE Annual Pass upgrade offer.

Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?
This event is suitable for adults and families with an interest in space.

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?
There are 400 free car parking spaces available on site. We are happy to call taxis for people and there is a bus stop to the 54 route within a 6 minute walk of the Centre.

What can/can’t I bring to the event?
Food and drink will not be allowed to be brought onto the premises

Where can I contact the organiser with any questions?
The National Space Centre –

Is my registration/ticket transferrable?
No, tickets are non transferable or refundable.

Can I update my registration information?
No, once a ticket is purchased no changes can be made.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
Either a printed ticket, or a ticket on your phone or tablet (we like the non-printing option, it is better for the planet).

What is the refund policy?
All tickets are non-refundable.